Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sustainable Business - Good for Business

At World Innovation Forum, Harvard's Rebecca Henderson spoke about sustainable business.

She used one of my favorite phrases - "Change is Opportunity" and she did emphasize that change is happening. 

She recognized that businesses need business cases in order to fully embrace environment and sustainability.  She laid out 4 plausible cases:

1 - Save Money.  Of course any company will implement something that saves money.  So do the analysis.  The best initiatives save money and feel good at the same time.  Often the best environmental initiative is about using less which often saves money.

2 - Securing Supply and Protecting the Brand.  I was surprised she lumped these into the same point.  Her point was the public owns the power of the press.  So being a "good", "clean" company protects brand.  The point on securing supply was making things sustainable ensured supply.  EG - a hardwoods company will have not hardwood if they are not buying sustainably grown product (Like UCFP)

3 - New Business.  Of course in any change, there are new business opportunities.  This can be anything from waste recovery firms, energy auditors, conservation, solar, wind to Zipcar.

4 - Insurance.  Sustainability is insurance against disaster.

She did make a point that new initiatives needed different incentives, expectations and nurturing.

Some quotes:

"Lead with values - Manage from the Heart"
"Speaking about values is inspirational"
"Talking about values builds trust"
"Values create the "why" that is necessary for change"
"Talking about values in public is the right thing to do"


2 Comments:

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Justin said...

Hello Jim,

There are two things that came to mind from this post.

First, are b-corps becoming more popular? It makes sense to incorporate as one if there is a social component to a company's business... my old roommate, first employee at Venmo, has his own ed tech start-up now. They are going down the b-corp route.

Second, using credits for managing pollution seems applicable here. Businesses that make a concerted effort to reduce pollution should be able to sell their credits as a reward.

Hope you are staying dry!

Justin

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Rick R said...

I think this is great advice, so many new companies are trying to embrace the green movement. And as it's a new territory, it's important for business owners to recognize that they need to do things differently.

 

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