The new decade dawns on a both troubled and hopeful note, full of opportunity and challenge. Profound economic uncertainty. Proliferating signs of climate instability. Unreliable energy supplies. And "sustainability" on big and unexpected lips -- from IBM's Smarter Planet to the major consulting firms.
We see growing recognition across the world of the seriousness of climate change -- yet woefully inadequate decisions and actions.
We see steadily increasing corporate sustainability activity. But most of it is still just nibbling at the edges of ecoefficiency and branding, not engaging the deep, essential and difficult challenging processes -- of transforming goals, cultures and business models -- that are necessary for both individual companies and economies to both survive and thrive in these uncertain times.
A recent survey of 1500 corporate executives and managers by the Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group confirms this observation -- and many of the insights we've been sharing with our clients for years:
"Although almost all the executives in the survey thought that sustainability would have an impact on their business and were trying to address this topic, the majority also said that their companies were not acting decisively to fully exploit the opportunities and mitigate the risks that sustainability presents."
Why? "More than 70% of survey respondents said that their company has not developed a business case for sustainability."
|Perspective: In the wake of Copenhagen, some things are clear
A cartoon circulating during COP15 climate negotiations last month showed a climate denier in the audience gesturing to a screen at the front of the hall that listed "Energy Independence. Preserve rainforests. Green jobs. Livable cities. Renewables. Clean water, air. Healthy children. Etc, etc."
"But what if it's a big hoax," the skeptic grumbles, "and we create a better world for nothing?"
Indeed. What if!
The COP15 negotiations in Copenhagen could have gone one of three ways: breakthrough, breakdown, or something in between. The odds favored something in between, and that's what we got, with players and analysts still arguing over how good or bad the outcome was.
What do we know, in the midst of the murky outcome?
The Big Challenge
What's wrong with this picture?
almost all the executives in the [Sloan/BCG] survey thought that
sustainability would have an impact on their business and were trying
to address this topic, the majority also said that their companies were
not acting decisively to fully exploit the opportunities and mitigate
the risks that sustainability presents."
We find that most businesses -- most people -- live within a pervasive
cultural assumption that environmental and social responsibility must
necessarily come at the expense of economic responsibility. The evidence is that it's just not true (or at least not necessarily true). As I say in
The Truth About Green Business, "You don't have to choose between
making money and making sense."
"Once companies begin to act
aggressively [on sustainability], they tend to unearth more
opportunity, not less,than they expected to find, including tangible
bottom line impacts, and new sources of competitive advantage."
So a key part of our job -- in helping our clients design, implement and measure profitable sustainability strategies -- is
helping them get out of that box -- by building a sound business
case that integrates economic, environmental and social imperatives.
Sloan survey reminds me that while Natural Logic has consistently been effective at helping our
customers achieve the good, practical, incremental gains they seek, we haven't consistently enough challenged them to look deeply enough.
now -- with new, focused offerings that will challenge you and your company to look deeply at the historic opportunities you are facing, assess your courage and commitment to both industry-leading success and world-changing impact, and, if you are ready, to engage us to help you get there.
We'll be rolling out
series of changes to our web site over coming weeks that introduce
these new approaches. You can see the first of them right now.
Our New Offer to You
Business is on a collision course with a set of global shifts that almost no one has adequately prepared for. These inevitable surprises are coming fast.
For those who are ready, these shifts will be platforms for change. For those who are not ready, they are traps.
We offer you a reliable way to prepare yourself.
We will show you how to make a new assessment of the situation at your company and your extended supply chain network.
We will work with you to design new ways to build profit, resilience, competitive position, share value, and satisfaction for shareholders, customers and employees -- all at the same time.
We will work beside you as you get into action to respond to what you find and to ensure that you effectively and consistently harvest the value that you identify.
A Place to Stand: Strategic Coaching
We're reintroducing our strategic coaching service -- confidential
conversations (directly with CEO Gil Friend or the Senior Associate of your
choosing) to help you clarify and advance both your company and career
You'll get a couple of substantive conversations
per month, plus on-call access by phone or email -- and the benefit of my nearly 40 years of experience in this field -- for less than the
cost of one day's consulting. Satisfaction guaranteed: you'll pay at the
end of each month, only if you're satisfied that we have delivered real
How can we be so confidant? Well, here's one metric: 75% of the
people who've used this service in the past gained substantial
If this is something you'd like to consider, please call me directly (on my cell phone, 510-435-6346) to discuss how Natural Logic's strategic coaching can work for you.
Deep Data. Natural Logic and TruCost Plc are pleased to announce our new strategic alliance -- linking TruCost's leadership in corporate ESG (environmental, social and governance) data, and Natural Logic's strategic advisory and performance analysis services, and bringing expanded benefits to the clients of both our companies.
EcoAudits/Training. Natural Logic has been selected by a large manufacturing company to train its team to conduct EcoAudits of its facilities. We'll be joined on this engagement by our strategic ally CTG Energetics.
Building TuneUps. The news is out about our alliance with SCIwatch -- to provide continual, from-the-cloud, building energy tuneups. But our web page isn't. Please check our web site, since it should be posted soon.
On-demand eLearning. We've begun to demo -- to strong reviews -- the first pilot components of the eLearning system based onThe Truth About Green Business. Please contact us if your company might be interested in providing this on-demand learning system to your employees or suppliers.
White Papers. In our last newsletter, we mentioned our forthcoming white paper on the "print vs pixels" debate. We still expect to release it in Q1, along with another withe paper on national materials recovery policy. Stay tuned for details and specific dates.
I'll be leading the first of a four-month, "first Friday", series on "Sustainability Integration" starting Friday, February 5, with speaker, discussion, workshop, and structured peer coaching in each session.Other session leaders include John Adams, Alexander and Katia Laszlo, and Odin Zackman. Act now - Space is limited!
Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) and I will share a panel on Can a retro cuisine be part of the avant-garde? at Saul's Deli (!) in Berkeley Tuesday February 9.
My kickoff webinar on "sustainability and innovation" for the Sustainable Brands Boot Camp -- as well as the rest of this 13 week series -- is now available on demand.
I'm hoping (but not yet confirmed) to attend State of the World Forum and Fortune Brainstorm:GREEN, among other events this spring, along with the to-be-rescheduled EarthForum training in Berkeley. And I'll be co-teaching "Principles of Sustainability Management" once again with Hunter Lovins at the Presidio Graduate School.
As always, our complete speaking schedule is at http://www.natlogic.com/news/workshops-and-events/; please check it regularly, since we update the page as events break.
And of course, contact us any time for speakers for your next event. (Need some persuasion? Check out this video of CEO Gil Friend's recent speech to the Commonwealth Club. You'll find many others on our video pages at YouTube, FaceBook and Natural Logic.)
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With best wishes, on behalf of the entire Natural Logic team, for a great year ahead,
Gil Friend, President & CEO