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

“Big Society”: Just a stinking acronym…

– We should recycle this “top down”, cynical, BS because its got to be good for something…

As many Corporations have found, embracing a Strategy for Sustainability, has had a positive effect upon their balance sheet! So, why then does the UK Government appear intent upon ignoring or marginalising the issues? How can you TALK “Big Society” and not WALK a strategy that can have a positive impact in every domain?

The paper that Spelman put out on Monday, under the compelling title ‘Mainstreaming sustainable development: The government’s vision and what this means in practice’, is without a doubt the most disgraceful government document relating to Sustainable Development that I have ever seen.

Jonathon Porritt, guardian.co.uk

Well said Jonathon!

It is beyond belief when you consider that, by running their operations more sustainably, Government Departments are saving money as well as reducing energy and water consumption, emissions and waste. In August last year, after the Government had announced its withdrawal of funding for SDC, I quoted this headline: “UK Government’s progress towards sustainable operations saves £60-70m a year”

I’m sure I am not the only person to feel deeply offended when treated with such utter contempt by Politicians who, patently, believe we should just accept the claptrap they spout in an effort to justify their actions! Still, I suppose that in the eyes of the blinkered or naive it is progress to see a semblance of some strategy…no matter how nonsensical and contradictory! Read more of this post

Complexity lessons from nature for a better economic future…

Here is a very brief snippet from a recent article in ft.com. The writers, who form an, apparently, unlikely combination, are Andy Haldane, Executive Director for financial stability at the Bank of England, and Robert May, Professor of Zoology at Oxford University and former British chief scientific adviser.

You shouldn’t really be too surprised because, increasingly in “Corporate America” the realisation is that, rather than environmentalists and others who push a “Sustainability agenda” being the enemy, they have learned through their own performance that embracing Strategy for Sustainability IS transforming their results. And not just because “green washing” was so costly or that their “educated” customers are spending more but because it is genuinely better for their business, stakeholders and the environment.

Nor is this the first time that these unlikely bed-fellows have attempted to communicate a message so important that it is cultivating increasingly inter-disciplinary approaches – joined-up thinking. This is familiar territory for Ontonix. It highlights why Complexity Theory and systems-thinking are THE point at which a new understanding can be applied to begin the process of recovery…this quote may help your understanding of why complexity is so important:

”Imagine assessing the robustness of the electricity grid with data on power stations but not on the power lines connecting them”

.”..The present situation in banking is in many respects perverse. The magic of diversification, when assumed into banks’ risk models, means that large, complex banks often hold less capital than their smaller, simpler brethren. The rocket-scientists building models tell us this makes sense. But the rocket-scientists building rockets tell us it is nonsense. This error has cost the world dear. Through this year, the Financial Stability Board is leading the charge to boost loss-absorbing capital for the largest, systemically important institutions to correct this error. It is right to do so.”

Fund Strategy Magazine: Complexity lessons from nature for a better economic future… In case you thought that “complexity management” is just more mumbo jumbo from the financial sector I suggest that you read the following piece and any of my previous blogs on the subject of complexity. Complexity analysis, mapping and management is available NOW and, if a business leader is intent upon gaining a greater insight into their operations, making more informed decisions, managing more effectively, gaining competitive advantage and “st … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

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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