Hurricane Katrina was an eye opener for Adam Werbach, a long time campaigner on environmental issues. Conventional environmental arguments had failed to get action from the New Orleans’ city authorities to improve their flood defences. After the disaster, major businesses solved the logistical problems to get goods into the disaster area faster than the official relief organisations.
As result the author realised that he should collaborate with business and harness their skills and knowledge to achieve his objectives. In developing that approach Adam Werbach found that real sustainability was also a good business strategy. Strategy and Sustainability is the result.
He sets out seven drivers (tenets) of a strategy for sustainability:
Strategy for Sustanaibility sets out STaR, a rapid SWOT or PEST-like approach to initial analysis of Society, Technology and natural Resources. From that the business should be able to articulate its North Star goal to provide its strategic direction.
The STaR approach analyses the business against:
Unusually Werbach suggests that with the current maturity of sustainability based strategies across the corporate world there is no need to include analysis of competitors’ response. He argues that any business that adopts sustainability seriously will automatically be a leader – that will change over time if more organisations accept Strategy for Sustainability as a business model. However it will be some time in the future before it is common let alone universal.
Strategy for Sustainability provides the key elements for implementing the strategy and delivering the North Star goal. They use positive-feedback loop based on:
This is a book that ought to have real impact. It is well-written, easily understood and light on the usual management gobbledygook and hair-shirt environmentalism. The ideas are straightforward and realistic. This is a highly accessible book that presents important ideas to meet complex needs in a straightforward way. It is an easy, even breezy, read but it most certainly is not lightweight.
Writers on other complex subjects should learn from Adam Werbach’s style in Strategy for Sustainability. The best intellects have the ability to formulate a concept that may itself be complex but present it in a simple manner that is readily understood by the intelligent layman. This book achieves that. Too many writers hide weak ideas behind impenetrable language; the reverse is true for Adam Werbach and Strategy for Sustainablity.
Adam Werbach is a long time environmental activist, writer and thought leader. He is Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi and a former Sierra Club President. He has the business and environmental credentials to give Strategy for Sustainability; A Business Manifesto real authority.
Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto ( ISBN: 978-1-4221-7770-9) by Adam Werbach is published on 6th July 2009 by Harvard Business Press at $25.
First appeared on Suite101