miércoles, 21 de febrero de 2007

Sustainability and Triple Bottom Line surf the disruptive wave of New media

Cannibals with forks is probably the best book on Sustainable development since Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. Fifteen years later, John Elkington, its author, and Chairman of Strategy consultants, SustainAbility, identifies seven revolutions that are already transforming the world of business. Transcending another diagnosis, and in an attempt to start walking the talk, he goes on to define the Thirty-nine steps to sustainability. We will elaborate more on future posts, for now check SustainAbility.com.

Elkington suggests that we are already seeing the emergence of a new- or renewed -set of values, many of which will be central to the sustainability transition. He defines sustainability “as a new form of value which society will demand and which successful businesses will deliver through transformed markets”.
This is a different approach to the traditional WBCSD or Schmidheiny’s definition.
I admire Elkington’s exactness in the affirmation “society will demand”, a concept we have been emphasizing for some time both in this blog and in the more elaborated Spanish version “el viaje de Odiseo”.

I am convinced that this demand will be the most critical factor of change, it will be sudden, decisive and of great impact. Most businesses will no even know where it is coming from since the power force behind it is strengthening and escalating in what we have defined as the New Web, We Media or the upcoming Web 3.0.

Elkington goes on to affirm that the revolution "is under way and is fueled by growing international transparency, and it will accelerate. This process is itself being driven by the coming together of new value systems and radically different information technologies”.

Due to its publishing date (1997-99) the book does not mention the changes profound changes in the Web 2.0. (which I might have overly stressed in this blog).
We clearly concur that powerful forces are colliding for a major change in the way we produce, consume and communicate. He defines seven revolutionary forces: Markets, Values, Transparency, Life-cycle technology, Time, Partnerships and Corporate Governance.

The “tipping point” (a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell to define the moment when something unique and unusual becomes normal) has come so much closer to occur since then, and it is about to take place, if it has not yet.

I coincide with his seven drivers, but I am convinced that since the publication of this book three of them have proven deeper in strength and have confirmed the erosion of the foundations of twentieth century capitalism: a profound value shift in society, an anew business conscience and the transparency new web technologies have instated.

Business will find its thinking, priorities, commitments, Elkington affirms, and activities under increasingly intense scrutiny worldwide. Some forms of disclosure will be voluntary, but others will evolve with little direct involvement from most companies. He convincingly concludes, “The transparency revolution is out of control”.

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