What if “counterintuitive” is THE mark of a leader?
Thursday, 6 October, 2011 1 Comment
As it is something that has been of great interest (and concern) to me I keep an eye on what is happening with business and sustainability. For too long the business perspective was that it was a case of the “politically correct – treehuggers – costing hard-pressed businesses money that they couldn’t afford”! But, low-and-behold, the evidence is mounting that:
(1) business leaders – particularly the “greed is good” MBA variety WERE WRONG
(2) working with nature isn’t only good for the planet but is also good for profitability
Of course I just love the fact that this fits very well with my own thoughts (and I am far from alone) on the lessons that business can learn from nature…something I have been banging-on about for the last few years.
Unfortunately, as we have endured the current crisis (of our own making) the intuition of Bankers and Politicians has been allowed to prevail. Instead of acknowledging that they had no knowledge how to “fix” the broken system they have attempted to justify a prolonged period of micro managing (national) macro (global) issues. They did what they “knew” in the belief that their actions would/should/might correct things and the socialised costs would be repaid as things returned to “normal”.
What if this is the new normal?
Just because we have enjoyed a prolonged period of growth and prosperity it certainly does not mean that this is how the future will be!!! It is like dismissing Quantum Physics in favour of the Newtonian variety simply because one is much (much) easier understood and intuitively correct, than the other.
I digress. I do stand to be corrected but very few of the business management books published in the last 100 years ever dealt with ecological issues or warned leaders against damaging the environment. Of course that is not to say that there haven’t been some enlightened individuals whose understanding and humanity saw them consider the impact of their actions, for economic reasons, upon environmental, social and cultural domains. The truth is that a basic understanding of the interdependent nature of our existence is in all of us, as are the “cause and effect” relationships, it’s just that greed and ego have tended to obscure such niceties for the bullish brand of business leader. THANKFULLY THE HARD, FINANCIAL, EVIDENCE FOR THESE FLAWED PHILOSOPHIES IS SUCH THAT IGNORANCE CAN NO LONGER BE AN EXCUSE.
More evidence of the many merits of embracing a Strategy for Sustainability, this time from Canada:
Logistics companies are facing considerable sustainability-related risks. Are there steps these companies can take to mitigate these risks while enhancing their competitiveness in today’s increasingly complex global business environment?
A new report from RBC and Supply Chain & Logistics Association Canada (SCL) takes a detailed look at that question and ultimately, concludes that environmental sustainability should be considered both a key issue and an important opportunity for Canada’s transportation and logistics companies.
According to the report, CEOs in the logistics sector need to grapple with five specific environmental challenges:
- Weather: Planning for uncertainty
- Energy: Powering distribution
- Emissions: Improving air quality through cleaner transport
- Water: Protecting an essential resource
- Waste: Getting to zero
The 24-page report is filled with case studies of companies that are meeting these challenges head-on. A Walmart Canada distribution centre uses pallet trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells. A Nestle Canada Inc. distribution centre has achieved 100 percent waste diversion from landfill. Footwear giant R.G. Barry Corporation now uses more sustainable packaging –a change which has saved the company nearly $3 million in corrugate, handling and transportation spend. The list goes on and on . . .
As the authors conclude, the key is to start working on sustainability issues now, so you can begin to
- reduce environmental impact,
- mitigate risk and
- gain competitive advantage.
From the report:
While it is understandable that you might be overwhelmed by the sustainable business challenge, the key is to get started, and remember: nothing is more powerful than committed leadership. You do not have to be the head of a global logistics or transport business to garner the benefits of going green. Environmental sustainability is scalable. As we have seen from the many examples in this report, companies of all shapes and sizes can — and are working to reduce their environmental footprint and building more resilient, profitable businesses in the process.
The full report, Enhancing Supply Chain Value with Green Logistics & Transportation, is available here