Leigh Baker of www.balance3.com.au is a Positive Sustainability Consultant and her recent PWF article Profitable Green Business – Think Service Not Product article attracted a lot of readers. Leigh, in this article, gives us an intro to an inspiring book and asks if today’s businessowners concerned with balancing ‘people, planet, profit are considering the following:
Leigh suggests a book that will challenge and inspire. To read it, you need to look beyond the big words it uses. The simple, creative ideas behind the words will be well worth your time and effort. The concepts are simple and elegant once you get them.
The underlying message of this book will challenge your assumptions about business and the environment – it goes way beyond “green” as a business obligation. It proposes that “business as though the environment matters” is going to be a fundamental profit strategy in this new century.
“Natural Capitalism” is written by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins. You don’t even have to buy it, you can download it in chapters from www.natcap.org
To help you get started, here’s our translation of the core principles, as introduced in Chapter 1 “The Next Industrial Revolution.”
NATURAL CAPITALISM: THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The 20th century model of business assumed that natural resources were 1) infinite and 2) pretty much free. This led to our one-way business model:
– dig it up
– make stuff
– use the stuff
– throw the stuff away
Towards the end of the 20th century, it was becoming increasingly obvious that:
1) natural resources aren’t infinite; and
2) there is a hidden and probably huge economic value in the services the environment has been providing.
More and more of our scientists, business leaders and politicians are being convinced that our accumulated unpaid environmental debt is going to have to be repaid soon.
Climate change, global warming, peak oil and other issues are becoming mainstream issues. Understanding & managing the associated risks will be a vital part of business for at least the next two decades.
(NOTE: You don’t have to believe it – AND you can’t afford to ignore it. Think about smoking or asbestos – what if the risks had been managed instead of ignored? Will your business manage with petrol at $3/iitre? $10/litre?)
Central Strategies of Natural Capitalism.
(Translation: Principles for great green profit)
Radical Resource Productivity
(Translation: Use 10 times less – at least)
We’ve never seriously designed our production system based on the full cost of natural resources. There is huge waste (and lost profits) just waiting to be regained – enough to make a good way of life possible for 8 billion people if we get started NOW.
There are different ways to put this:
– the goal of zero waste (a Japanese manufacturing target for over 20 years).
– use 1/10th of whatever you use now (Factor 10 resource usage reduction)
The key points to understand are:
1) we have the know-how to do this already (for example, kaizen, Lean Production)
2) products & services designed to these principles end up more profitable, NOT more expensive.
(Translation: Nature is smart, let’s copy it)
There are two different levels we can copy at:
1. Design the business supply chain (products, processes, services) like a forest.
No wastes – everything is food for something. Plants feed animals, animals die and fertilise plants. Everything recirculates; no rubbish dumps.
So how can we redesign our products & processes so everything can be remanufactured in to more quality products? How can we process our wastes so they are valuable products to someone?
2. Use ideas & processes from nature.
Many of the technical things we do are already done in nature and done without high temperatures and big machines. We’ve borrowed the design of a kingfisher’s beak for the nose of a high speed train. The design that bees use for honey combs is great for creating light strong building materials. There’s a library full of new ideas just waiting for us to look.
Service & flow economy
(Translation: Sell the ends, not the means.)
Customers want what your products do for them, not what they’re made of. Start thinking about your business as a life time service contract instead of units sold or hours billed, and the flow of cash into your business can also change. So will the flow of natural resources.
InterfaceFLOR leases floor covering instead of selling carpet. Dupont sells Ford the service “cars painted” instead of “paint litres” – waste paint is a cost, not a profit. What’s the value behind your produce?
Invest in natural capital.
(Translation: The environment is a source of wealth.)
As we increasingly put $ values on the services that the environment provides, the natural environment is becoming a business opportunity.
Eco-tourism profits from the value of beautiful places. Carbon trading will start to put a value on the air we breath. Look out for the beginning of bio-banking to pay farmers for the environmental services they provide – water filtration, species diversity, oxygen renewal.
If you read the book and want more ideas, also try “Cradle to Cradle” (McDonough and Braungart) and “Mid Course Correction” (Ray Anderson). Or step back from your business as it is at the moment and redesign it for the 21st century. Or develop a whole new business. More and more innovators are doing just that.
If you want the content of these books and many others packaged into simple training programs with ideas & examples from Australia as well as overseas sources, talk to Balance3 about their executive briefings and training programs. www.balance3.com.au
If you would love to do something, but you can’t find the time for research & business development, then you need to talk to Balance3 about INTERCEPT® executive coaching, so you end up with a sustainable life as well as a sustainable business and a sustainable world. www.interceptcoachingsystem.com