By Katie Branagh, Adam Feldman, Margaret Hartwell, Dean Martucci and David Tausheck
Is Industrial Ecology a paradigm shift with normative potential to be applied to policy, strategy and technology or is it an emerging discipline, in its own right, as the “science” of sustainability? Industrial Ecology has been defined as “a systems-based, multidisciplinary discourse that seeks to understand emergent behavior of complex integrated human/natural systems” (Allenby, B., 2006) but some argue that the terms together, industrial and ecology, hold an inherent paradox.
By Jonathan Mariano
Three of the most influential economists include John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and F.A. Hayek. Keynes and Friedman are typically viewed as opposing, rather than supporting each others views. Hayek often gets overlooked, although is becoming prominent once again, as of the last boom and bust. It’s interesting to note the overlap and differences between the three economists.
Keynes vs. (Friedman + Hayek) on Markets
When it comes to markets, Keynes suggests interventionism from the government, and Friedman + Hayek usually suggest free markets with little, if any government involvement.
By David Jay
“Water is the next carbon” has become a go-to-soundbyte in the workshops and conferences I’ve been attending recently. But the closer I’ve looked, the more I’ve begun to uncover reasons why that’s just not true.
Why Water is Smaller than Carbon
At first glance, managing water seems like a coming echo of the still-yodeling world of carbon accounting. Both have to do with the environment, and keep employees, customers, and stakeholders happy. Both are a way to stay ahead of regulation from Congress and the EPA. Both involve looking at your operations and supply chain, seeing where the most stuff gets used, and trying to use less of it. So what’s the big deal?
By Ted Ko
Some recent writings by Jay Ogilvy (not yet published) on the opposing styles of systems thinking provide an enlightening philosophical framework behind the evolution of strategy theory and the successes and failures of corporate strategy development processes. Fundamentally, strategy design is a systems thinking exercise and executives would do well to understand the basic approaches to systems theory. Then, optimal design would seem to require active awareness of the “oscillations” between arrogance and humility and strike an appropriate balance.
By David Jay
During a recent lecture at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program my professor gave us a taste of systems thinking. In a PowerPoint slide with text too small to read, he showed us a nest of boxes and arrows, stocks and flows describing just a few of the millions of complicated relationships between a company, its environment and the society in which it operates. Systems thinking, he explained, is about taking all of these complex interconnections into account—a daunting task for an oversimplified system that is too dense to read, let alone memorize or fully understand.
By Jonathan Mariano
The Toyota Production System has garnered praise and accolades not only in the realm of automobile manufacturing, but in the realm of operational efficiency. Similar to how individuals interested in sustainable business focus on the the 3P’s, the triple or integrative bottom line of People, Planet, and Profits, the underlying elements of the Toyota Production System can be summarized in the 4P’s: Philosophy, Process, People & Partners, and Problem Solving. The 4P’s are at the heart of what Toyota wants to be culturally. Furthermore, there is much crossover in the fundamental framework of the Toyota Production System and Sustainability. On another note, the visible actions of Toyota are not the core of the Toyota Production System. As Stevens and Kent state, “Toyota does not consider any of the tools or practices – such as kanbans or andon cords, which so many outsiders have observed and copied – as fundamental to the Toyota Production System.” Rather, it’s the underlying cultural framework of the Toyota Production System that enables Toyota to outperform western production methods.
By Ali Hart
In the past decade, green products have infiltrated the mainstream consumer market, and I’d argue that the biggest splash has been in the “luxury green” market. When I first noticed this happening, I was appalled–I’m not a luxury brand buyer and I don’t want sustainability to be associated with “upscale and expensive.” Sustainability, after all, is supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive.
Green products were initially in the niche “health and wellness” space, and some of these products carry a “hippie” stigma (I’m from New England so bear with me, West Coasters). This stigma is related to the perception of the environmentalist movement as liberal, activist, and hippie – hardly mainstream. In order for green to hit its tipping point, it had to be more accessible to the masses–this is the job of a marketer.
By Brahm Ahmadi
Ecological economics is a transdisciplinary field of study that addresses the complex interconnectedness of human systems and natural ecosystems. Unlike neoclassical economics, which is preoccupied with the value-free idea of efficiency, ecological economics focuses on the economy as a subsystem of the ecosystem, and emphasizes the natural limits of our planet in relation to human social and economic systems.
It’s ironic that many of the environmental problems of today have been driven by social norms and cultural values and, yet, these factors are not central tenets of ecological economics.
By Jacob Park
Managers must start to recognize environmental improvement as an economic and competitive opportunity…it is time to build on the underlying economic logic that links the environment, resource productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. – Michael Porter
What do SUVs, genetically modified organisms, and fast food all have in common? They’re all antithetical to sustainability…and they’re all described as exemplary “blue ocean” strategies.
By Matthew Madden
In neo-classical economics, the paradox of thrift describes an economic scenario in which the more people save their own money, the worse off the overall economic situation becomes. As a result, the paradox of thrift states that what may be good for the individual may not be good for society. The consumption paradox describes a situation in which an individual enjoys an increased quality of life from a material standpoint, yet is less satisfied and content with that life. The consumption paradox is specifically focused on both the “take-make-waste” model we’ve embraced as well as the role marketing, advertising and sales campaigns play in increasing the throughput of this model.
By Leslie Caplan
Reading about throughput makes me wonder if we could approach solving product or service needs by starting at what we now call the “end” of the throughput process or “the dump.” Let’s say companies were incentivized to change how they solved consumer and social problems by a government tax or regulation that penalized or restricted companies based on the waste produced by their products. (An analogy would be the tax on cigarettes that is connected to medical costs to society of cigarette smoking, or a carbon tax.)
By Basak Altan
Financial, social as well as ecological sustainability are important macro economic goals. We have believed up until this point that as long as our GDP grows, our financial, social and sustainability problems will also be solved. Hopefully the world is eventually coming to a realization that this is really not the case. This continuous and endless growth is also contributing to the world’s growing sustainability problems.
The US’s national debt is composed of two main facets: First, debt accumulates as the US government spends more than it produces. Second, the US external debt is also identified as what the American people owe to other nations. While the US government’s debt rises as the government runs a deficit, it also falls when it runs a surplus.
By Max Dunn
Ray Anderson was 60 and retired from the weight of making next quarter’s numbers when he was able to breathe, look around, and ask: “What’s next? What legacy to do I want to leave for my daughters?” That is when he got the sustainability “spear in the chest”. However, Ray’s case was pretty unique. While some other businesses like Wal-Mart, Ford and Xerox are making some moves towards sustainability, we are not likely to see a wave of businesses spontaneously adopt sustainability until something momentous happens. And what form will that momentous sustainability spear take? Climate change? Probably not.
By Steve Pierson
“The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run, as if your life depends on it.”
From Paul Hawken’s commencement address to the University of Portland Class of 2009
Let me begin by saying what a wonderful commencement address I think Mr. Hawken’s was, and thank Hunter Lovins for relaying it to the Presidio community. It reminds me of Mark Sower’s Presidio graduation address comment about how “we are faced with insurmountable opportunities.” Both hold the tension of that impossible task we must nevertheless do. The anchor is the impossible task, and the variable is our capacity to rise to it.
By Rebecca Greenberg
It can be said, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our world is changing.
Our planet is warming, our population is growing, our water supply is under preassure, and our financial systems have suffered. We have a new president in office; a man who passionately describes a new, green economy. The traditional ways of conducting business are changing. Even the largest investment banks and motor companies are beginning to realize that the “status quo” of doing business, i.e. profit for profit’s sake, must be revolutionized.
Our economy must adapt to be faster, “greener” and more innovative. So what do we have when we combine traditional economics with environmental stewardship and social ethics? Ethonomics, of course.
Ethonomics has several definitions. The term was originally coined to describe the academic process of mapping value systems. Earlier this year, however, Fast Company magazine assigned a new meaning to the term Ethonomics: ethical economics.