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December 09, 2007


Mark W. McElroy

Hi Joel:

Well, there you go again. I looked at the report you covered, and while it certainly speaks extensively about sustainability and how to achieve it, it completely fails to define the term itself. Here's what it says about that:

"With respect to language, we use the term 'sustainability'
to refer to business or corporate sustainability and
corporate responsibility. We define it more broadly than
some, offering the term as a simple catchall for other
terms such as corporate citizenship, sustainable development,
corporate social responsibility and its acronym
CSR, and ESG (environmental, social, governance)."

Sorry, but that's just a statement of synonyms, not a definition. So what we're left with is a 52-page report about sustainability and how to achieve it, and no idea whatsoever as to what the authors mean by the term. And you call that "fascinating"? I call it irresponsible.

Also, I tried to pull up the source document of the so-called "Gear" thing from SustainAbility, and couldnt find it. Is it really there at all? Since the idea didn't originate with Avastone, this is kind of important.

And as for the "Mindsets" idea, is that just another way of referring to ideas that the authors might not agree with, as opposed to the ones they do? Why don't they just say people should stop behaving in unsustainable ways instead of hiding behind this "Mindset" thing? They speak of "expansion of consciousness" as if it will necessarily lead to their point of view. What if it doesn't? Is the resulting "Mindset" wrong?

God knows I am a sustainability advocate, but this fuzzy, mystical, and frankly arbitary framework is not particularly helpful. You call it "abstract"; I call it nonsense.



Naa Traveler

"We need more leaders to be steeped in such disciplines in order to move our organizations in the directions they need to go to adapt and thrive in the coming years."

Very well put...

Sean Gibson

Thanks for the summary. While a bit abstract, I appreciate the brainpower put into this report and the reminder about all the different drivers of sustainability and potential levers/strategies to effect organizational change.

As a communications guy, I like the comment about the importance of "softer" issues like culture, shared values, and guiding principles. These all tie to a brand, which is often near and dear to the CEO, CMO and other folks with control over significant budgets and strategic direction, which result in tactical programs that impact "sustainability" in whatever way a company or its stakeholders define it.

It also seems that a "mindset" is more difficult to shift. So once it's agreeable to sustainability (e.g., Lee Scott), there may be less chance of short-term budget cuts and shifts away from the organizational strategy du jour (which I hope sustainability isn't).


Wow, this is a great post indeed, and the site altogether is fantastic. I would bookmark the page. How fine you write, and I never found anywhere else such useful information Indeed I guess business should be done with some justice to the environment. I have added it to my daily readings. I would also like to suggest a site to the other readers, this site is a resource rich one for the corporate governance, and CEO and board coaching, the post about leadership reminded me of this site, Please find the link below:

Corporate Governance in changeleaders

R. Todd Erkel

Duquense University posts an interesting "screen" for the Sustainable Mindset on their MBA Sustainability site. Click here: http://mba.sustainability.duq.edu/reputation/duquesne-mba-sustainable-mindset.asp

Jim Abbondante

Very interesting! When it comes to the role leadership plays in sustainability, I had someone ask me what I thought true leadership was and I explained that true, 'results-oriented' leadership (especially in a business environment) is not only about being consistent in your demonstration of what 'good' looks like, but it's all about finding ways to further increase the 'real' return you're able to receive on what you're investing in your people while you're working together with them on a daily basis to get the job done on behalf of the customer or client. I explained that leadership involves discovering new and more effective ways to create even greater opportunities for growth and success on the part of each one of your people, your team as a whole, your company, and also your customers and/or clients. Leadership is all about you being in the driver's seat when it comes to you 'being' and 'doing' whatever it takes to insure the success of anyone and everyone who has a vested interest in your organization's success. There's a lot more to demonstrating and providing genuine leadership than most people in leadership positions realize. It's my opion that that kind of leadership will produce 'sustainability'. Good article.

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