Lean Companies Ready to Cut – WSJ.com

You don’t have to have an in depth knowledge of complexity or systems theory to understand that “lean” means FRAGILE!

Most readers would  recognise RESILIENT as the opposite of FRAGILE – Nassim Taleb presents a robust case for “anti-fragile” as the opposite.

“Lean” doesn’t suggest a business with the level of redundancy required to absorb the unforeseen “shocks” of a turbulent and unpredictable economy! Read more of this post

What if “counterintuitive” is THE mark of a leader?

Sustainability, like Complexity management, isn’t just “good for business” it’s good for everyone.

imageAs 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?

Read more of this post

Connecting the dissident dots…”Tipping Points”

Mark Mobius is one of the most influential voices in Global investments and he is talking about when and what, NOT “if”, in terms of “tipping point” for the next global financial crisis. He’s right..

The foundations of the world economic system are so decayed and so corrupted that even a stiff breeze could potentially topple the entire structure over. Over the past couple of months a constant parade of bad economic news has come streaming in from Europe, Asia and the United States. Signs of an impending economic slowdown are everywhere. So what “tipping point” will trigger the next global economic downturn? Nobody knows for sure, but potential tipping points are all around us. Read more of this post

Connecting the dissident dots from…Glasgow to the Great Pyramid: a practical lesson in Complexity Theory

Long before I gained any real understanding of  complexity, systems, fractals and power laws it had struck me how very different – I choose the word in preference to “better” – the world had become!

For some time now we have had the tools to facilitate communication like we had never experienced. But there was something fundamental missing…a widespread understanding of just how to put it to “good use”.

For as long as I can remember I have believed in and advocated interdependence [even though at various times in my life I have found it difficult to practice what I preach – delegation has never been a strong point!] and worked in an industry that, patently, doesn’t get it. The financial sector thrived, grew fat, lazy and untrusted by structuring (increasingly) win/lose contracts where value was replaced by advertising, hard-sell marketing and cheap prices.

Abandoning quality for quantity; mis-selling inferior products; misrepresenting debt as credit; abusing customer loyalty and inertia; peddling the myth of financial independence and contaminating a generation… Read more of this post

The case for (CSR) Sustainability

I wholeheartedly believe that business cannot talk seriously about the future, “sustainable competitive advantage” and “sustainable profits” with out embracing sustainability. Any “Business Leader” worthy of the title must realise that “business” does not exist in a vacuum but is reliant upon every other domain within our global ecosystem! Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto

I would recommend anyone with an interest in embedding sustainability into their business to read Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability. He is, after all, the man who was “vilified” by the green lobby for working with Wal-Mart but, low-and-behold, a few years down the line, here in this article about CSR and sustainability we have the CEO – of a firm with a once dubious reputation in this field – extolling the virtues of just such an approach. They would not be doing so unless it showed on their bottom-line!!!


Sustainability, like Complexity management, isn’t just “good for business” it’s good for everyone.


This extract from 2Sustain, a great blog on the subject matter:      


Again and again, I’ve seen how sound CSR policy translates into solid business success, and that’s precisely why the title of Aneel Karnani’s recent Wall Street Journal article, The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility, caught my eye.


In sum, Karnani’s basic premise is that CSR efforts are either irrelevant or ineffective. “The idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed,” he writes . . .


. . . and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I whole-heartedly disagree.


The concept of CSR isn’t flawed. What’s flawed is the mind-set that adheres blindly to the tired, old mantra that claims “the business of business is doing business.”

Sure, businesses want to make profits. But ultimately, the ability to make profits is affected by social and environmental issues. Scarce natural resources drive up prices. Poverty and poor education impact the workforce. The list goes on and on, and any company with ambition must realize that they have no choice but to engage –not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because in the end, a commitment to CSR helps mitigate risks and ultimately, benefits the bottom line.


McKinsey & Company deep dives into these issues in the report, Shaping the Future: Solving Social Problems through Business Strategy. Sub-titled, “Pathways to sustainable value creation in 2020,” this paper encourages a shift in mind-set, a new approach that enables companies to create value while simultaneously addressing social problems.


As Mike Duke, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., explains in the report, “More will be expected from market leaders and globally successful companies, and those companies who are most involved will be most successful, creating an upward spiral.”


Bill Weldon, from Johnson & Johnson, agrees. “We all have to contribute to sustainable solutions over time –not any one group can do it alone,” he says. “You cannot assume that everyone else will address the problem and that you do not have to engage. If we do not align ourselves and work in a collective way on these social issues, everybody will be worse off.”


So, despite Karnani’s outdated and hollow insistence that CSR is ineffective and irrelevant, I’m going to side with business leaders like Duke and Weldon and continue to make the Case for Corporate Social Responsibility. In our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, there really is no other way to achieve long-term business success.

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