Image source: Saatchi & Saatchi S
There’s no place like India, and to visit is to be surprisingly uplifted. So too is a recent report on Lessons for Corporate Sustainability from India, produced by Saatchi & Saatchi S, and arising from some intrepid exploring by two of our S men, Adam Werbach and Andrew Bryson.
Adam says up front “I felt like I had brought a glass of water as a gift to the ocean” – which sets the tone for a refreshing look at sustainability.
What makes India a teacher for a sustainable world? Plenty - not least the inherent diversity of society, deep social roots (go Gandhi), innate entrepreneurism, a caring for sustainability, values-driven business leadership, and creative companies who have to keep up with smart and collectivist consumers, and companies that are adept at Jugaad in the face of striking challenges.
The S report lays down five lessons for companies from India, with some inspirational examples:
- Hire people, not machines; there’s the e-commerce company with its own army of couriers doing point of purchase, putting more people to work, saving money, improving quality in line with customer preference, online commerce done personal.
- Cultivate self-reliance; there’s the paint company that solved the problem of being prohibited from discharging more effluent, by eliminating all effluent from their plants. Don’t wait for government move forward.
- Think in Whole-Systems; there’s the vertical integrator that reaches farmers as both producer and consumer, and helps connect the farmers to the world, while reducing net environmental impacts.
- Align with Natural Forces; there’s the power company that with gasifiers uses rice husks, a big source of waste, to run a whole power system.
- Plan First, then Jugaad; there’s the innovative impulse of a revolutionary refrigerator that is tested in small markets before going nationwide.