Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strategy for Sustainability

This week Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto, was launched on the world. Adam is CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S – Saatchi & Saatchi’s specialist sustainability agency, and a great guy, who shares my belief that sustainability is the most realistic strategy for long term business success and business growth. His book comes from the heavyweight Harvard Business Press so it’s been worked over by the business management pros but I found it challenging, fascinating and moving by turn. How many business books can you say that about?

Adam sets out a step-by-step guide to how any business can step up to be the best they can be as sustainability instigators, activists, advocates and champions. This is sustainability as a catalyst not a set of rules and standards to hold you back. The place to start is with what Adam calls your North Star Goal (in our Peak Performance work we call this an Inspirational Dream). Any goal set by the North Star has got to be inspiring, after all it is the star that has been used for thousands of years to find your way home when you are lost and as a trusted guide when you venture into the unknown. To find your own reference point, closely examine current trends and how your business could win advantage from them by improving your business planning and execution. Adam stresses that your North Star goals have to be core to the business, engaging to your people and connected to a higher purpose for the rest of the world.

At Saatchi & Saatchi our North Star Goal is to “help a billion people create their personal sustainability practice through the products and people that touch their lives.” We’ve started with ourselves and the Do One Thing (DOT) program. Already we have 2,000 Saatchi & Saatchi people involved. The magic starts happening when that 2,000 sign up another 10 people each and we will leapfrog to 20,000 and then that 20,000 … you get the picture. It’s exciting, it’s fast, it’s viral.

Paradoxically, it is now with a recession gripping the world, that there are more opportunities to advance sustainability than fewer. At times like these the green washers start to back away from their commitments and we can all see them for what they are. Big promisers taking little action. Adam says in his book that this is the most dynamic moment for business strategy since the Great Depression and I believe he is right. It’s why it is so important that this book is published now when throughout the world businesses are reconsidering their fundamental models. Strategy for Sustainability shows how to make the most of this process and build businesses that are transparent, flexible and make authentic, long-term connections with consumers.

Buy your copy now and get started with what you can do.