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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Management > Strategic Planning for Green and Sustainable Management

The Sweet Spot of Green for Corporate Strategy

Attitude, attitude, attitude. It's all about the unspeakable "s" word.

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Gold medallion for recognition James Barrett, an economist with Redefining Progress, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit policy group that promotes sustainable living differentiates between fiduciary responsibility and risk management -- which is what climate change initiatives address. "There is clearly a tension between fiduciary responsibility and wanting to do the right thing. For most companies it’s hard to reconcile the two of them."

When weather events become more severe -- agriculture suffers. When oceans rise, neighborhoods and/or cities flood. When temperatures warm a region -- different plants grow, and different wildlife moves in. Unexpected diseases appear.

Upsetting natural systems that provide billions of dollars worth of fresh, potable water, breathable air, minerals and raw materials that are the very foundations of business productivity -- well, isn't that part of a business metric for fiduciary responsibility?

Risk management isn't just about financially insuring negligent or wasteful activities, it's always always included preventative care of valuable assets and resources. At least in previous generations, and some societies.

Businesses -- SOME business leaders -- just aren't connecting the dots between being responsible citizens and responsible workers. Work, home and community responsibilities and opportunities to provide for one's family and communit(ies) are connected. That's the realistic sweet spot of business.

Business grew out of our ancient search for food and shelter, and protection from danger. Even cave-men and cave-women dabbled in this productive activity as though their lives depended on it.

Have we lost that basic metric of survival?

Forget ethical mandates from your customers, your family and your communities (for a moment). Just weigh the cost of waste and lost productivity due to extravagance, wasted resources, poor training, poor working conditions, poor logistics, and misplaced pride. Fix those little problems first -- waste like that is also a business leader's fiduciary responsibility.

Then when you fix waste and greed, we can talk about doing the right thing about the lifeboat we are all clutching in the vast ocean of the universe.

Please pardon my ire.

It just gets so frustrating to have profit-only oriented leaders act like they create the very air we breathe and the water we drink. And that protecting our shared natural resources and hard-working natural systems -- is a LUXURY!

I just want to stand on top of one of those imploded mining mountains and shout, "GET REAL!"

Business's "sweet spot"'s really very simple.

It's Survival. That's the unspeakable "s" word.

And isn't survival -- as gritty and uncouth as it sounds in the hallowed halls of Wall Street and Washington ...isn't survival really what fiduciary and moral and social and citizen and family responsibility is all about?

Test the Real Sweet Spot of Natural Systems

Hold your breath. How long can you hold it? That's about as long as "fiduciary responsibility" overshadows our responsibility for respecting Mother Nature.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath. ;-)

Practical Tips for Green Strategy

The article in "Chief Executive" does provide 5 tips for taking first green steps.

1. "Don't fudge." Greenwashing is rather like using a bandaid cure for cancer.

2. "Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit. By starting small and wringing out energy costs, for example, you can gain some knowledge, save money and keep investors calm." Just don't stop there! Investors (some investors) are known to read and investigate ongoing commitments.

3. "Partner Wisely. Getting an environmental watchdog in your corner never hurts—but don’t sell your soul either." First, define where your soul has been hanging out...and the company it has been keeping. Then you can define what "don't sell your soul" really means.

4. "Show Your Work. 'We think the best remedy for greenwashing is transparency...'" But put your facts and figures into proper perspective...remember, your family's survival depends on your integrity.

5. "Get the Word Out. Once you do have an authentic and successful strategy for doing business while doing good for Mother Earth, advertise." You would be amazed at how fast truly good work gets noticed -- as fast as YOU notice other people's good work! Hmmm...

The New Global, Sustainable, Collaborative Economy

"Collaboration among stakeholders, and even former critics, is becoming the norm for CEOs hammering out their green strategies," states the reporter. This new way of conducting business requires such drastic changes in attitudes and structures that the American way of doing business could lose out to the third world. After all, it's usually easier to start from scratch than rehab an old structure.

If we want to rehab our American business structure, we have a lot more work to do than change lightbulbs and mix it up with all the big boys who are still thinking only of profit (not profit + people + planet). As has been shown time after time, rigid systems are bested by fleet-of-foot grassroots strategies. We learned that during the American Revolution, Vietnam, Silicon Valley, and now in China and India.

Small is the new solution for global economic development. But the small we're talking about might not be an American sweet spot. We have too much invested in large egos and large houses and large enterprises to think small, and meet small needs ( X billions ) in sustainable ways.

We adore and reward the unsustainable. Until we face "survival" straight on, we live in elegant, opulent unsustainability.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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