Layoffs. Failing companies. Collapsing economies. Tainted products. Scarce resources. These are but a few of the seemingly intractable problems that plague the world we live in today. And these problems will only get worse—unless we change how we do business.
That calls for the relentless pursuit not of short-term profitability, but of long-term sustainability—and that doesn’t mean “green.” Leading business strategist Adam Werbach pushes sustainability well beyond quaint notions of saving the planet. In Strategy for Sustainability, Werbach redefines the movement to address not just environmental and economic trends, but also social and cultural ones.
Werbach underscores that strategy has always been about making profits first, and that can’t change. But what must change is how we go about making those profits. He proposes a new business strategy framework that is keenly attuned to the world around us, flexible enough to respond to rapid change, and focused on the long view. A strategy for sustainability requires constantly analyzing changes in society, technology and resources to determine how these changes will impact your company—and creating “North Star” goals that tie your success to positive global trends you see developing. From there, you can implement the three core tools of sustainability—making information transparent, engaging people inside your company, and leveraging networks of customers, suppliers, and communities—to identify and solve pressing problems.
Through success stories within companies from Xerox to method to Wal-Mart, Werbach shows how some companies are already realizing profits by putting sustainability at the core of their business. Not with top-down directives from executives, but from dozens, even hundreds of small steps taken by people at every level of their companies.
The sustainability movement is just beginning—and you have the chance to reinvent everything. The question is: what will you do?
Adam Werbach is a premier thought leader on business initiatives around sustainability, Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi S, former Sierra Club President, and the author of many influential writings on sustainability including the 1997 book Act Now, Apologize Later.