The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook
eBook - ePub

The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook

Building New Bridges, Second Edition

Jeana Wirtenberg, Linda M. Kelley, David Lipsky, William G. Russell, Jeana Wirtenberg, Linda M. Kelley, David Lipsky, William G. Russell

  1. 478 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook

Building New Bridges, Second Edition

Jeana Wirtenberg, Linda M. Kelley, David Lipsky, William G. Russell, Jeana Wirtenberg, Linda M. Kelley, David Lipsky, William G. Russell

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About This Book

With deep thought and inspiring examples, this updated book engages readers by increasing their understanding and awareness of what sustainability means conceptually, practically, personally, and professionally. It provides readers with the tools and techniques to improve the social, environmental, and economic performance of their organizations in both the short and long term. Since sustainability is not achieved in a siloed environment, everyone has a critical role to play on this journey.

The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook, with full companion materials at, engages today's managers and leaders of organizations, in both the private sector and civil society, who are being challenged as never before to find ways to play a proactive role in understanding and addressing the risks and opportunities of sustainability. It teaches them how to apply systems thinking to turn our most intractable problems into exciting business opportunities, and offers ground breaking frameworks in new chapters on globalization, strategy, metrics, and sustainability models for collaboration, technology, and community. That is why this book is structured to be a fieldbook to provide practitioners the Activities, Cases, and Tools that they can use to help move their enterprise through progressively higher performing stages of sustainability. Readers also have access to the innovative Living Fieldbook, an online community forum filled with supporting materials:

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Part I
Understanding reality: our context for The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook
Introduction and overview
Jeana Wirtenberg, Linda M. Kelley, David Lipsky, and William G. Russell
Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.
(Pope Francis, 2015)
Since the first edition of The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook was published in 2008, there have been many profound changes affecting people, the planet, and business, both positive and negative. Never has there been more attention globally on climate change, and the role of business in mitigating its impacts. While this is clearly insufficient for the problems we face, we continue to believe that it is the human side of sustainability that is the missing factor. So for the past 10 years we have focused intensively on building the leadership capacities, not just in the top echelon of leaders, but at all levels, to address our most intractable problems. We realized the need for an exponential increase in education, awareness, understanding, and, most important, action to address the problems that we face. As we updated our chapters on Leadership, Strategy, Change, Employee Engagement, et al., we were struck by the overall lack of progress and how relevant our advice and concepts still are today, and feel even more of a sense of urgency that more needs to be done. This urgency becomes even more pronounced as we observe the extreme divisiveness in the United States and around the world, with people lining up to take sides to either deny the realities of evidence-based science around climate change, or on the other side to try and ameliorate its impacts or attenuate its further degradation of our planet.
While we are making awesome advances in creating and applying highly complex technologies to improve our quality of life, we are also severely damaging the essential resources that make life on Earth possible. This is the greatest human irony of all time. We cannot develop much less sustain our lives and economies without the resources provided by Earth’s natural environment. Though they may seem abundant, those resources are finite. Consuming them at the rate we are doing is unsustainable by all measures. If we are to sustain ourselves, we must make different choices, changing our consumption habits and innovating so that we work well within the boundaries of our single, shared planet. We can invent businesses and lifestyles that align with planetary realities so that we will thrive. People, planet, profits are inexorably intertwined. It’s up to each of us to pay attention, lead where we can, and be thoughtful, aware contributors when others are leading. We do our best when we work together.
It will take more than inventing new technologies, though. First, we must reconnect our values to what really matters, that deep, visceral understanding of our integral connection with the essence of Earth’s bounty: water, air, food-nurturing soil, energy among those resources. Writing and rereading this last sentence, it seems too obvious to even state. Yet, our actions, individually and as societies, show we have been taking these absolutely essential resources for granted, giving them no more than minimal care on our part.
How have we gotten ourselves so disconnected in a world where we have so much, and what can we do about it?
Where are we, really?
In spite of our total reliance on the natural world, we have become almost blind to it.
(Stanislaw Trzebinski, sculptural artist, Woodstock, Cape Town, SA)
Nothing wipes away blindness to our unrelenting dependence on Nature faster than catastrophe does. Focus for a minute on the period of August–September, 2017. Two of the largest, strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic basin hit the US mainland with little more than a week between them. Houston was deluged by Harvey that dropped almost 60 inches of rain in just the few days it was stalled over the area. Neighborhoods, oil refineries, chemical plants, all under water. Before a full assessment was made of that damage, all of coastal Florida was covered in Irma’s storm surge, after that hurricane barreling through the Eastern Caribbean scouring Barbuda clean, then the knocking out of the Virgin Islands. Right behind came Maria blanketing Puerto Rico with winds that took out the island’s electric power grid and water utilities. Each of these megahits left lingering devastation in its wake.
But that wasn’t all. That same September, Mexico was hit by two earthquakes. The most damaging was to Mexico City where a 7.1 level earthquake turned busy city streets to rubble. And that was some of what happened in North America. In Europe, massive rainstorms flooded southern Norway, England, the Czech capital of Prague, Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, Bavaria and Saxony in Germany, the countryside surrounding the Black Sea, Croatia, Greece, Italy. Flash floods in Iran. Heavy monsoons raged floods through India, Nepal, and Bangladesh forcing millions from their homes. Mudslides in China and the Philippines devastated communities.
Then there were the fires, some of the worst ever seen. Fifteen major wildfires raging in California alone. Over 120,000 acres burned at this writing with the fires still not under control and people praying for rain. Add to that, Oregon, Washington State, in the US. Wildfire events didn’t stop at the US border though. During this same summer season of 2017, nearly 3 million acres of British Columbia burned. Brazil had its worst forest fire month ever. Hundreds of wildfires in Portugal. New South Wales and Queensland in Australia also suffered out-of-control fires. Fires in Siberia are said to be the worst in 10,000 years. Earlier in the year, wildfires rampaged through East, Central, and South Africa. Even icy Greenland is burning! Crackled from drought and burned to a crisp. Taken all together, it’s overwhelming. It is not normal. It’s not anyone’s old normal.
Not surprisingly, the cost in lives and livelihoods from all this is gargantuan. People are not equipped to deal with multiple disasters on this scale. Each of these human disasters turns out to be a business disaster as well. Record clean up and rebuilding costs are looming over us with estimates for Hurricane Harvey as high as $200 billion. But the ultimate loss to business is even greater than close-in immediate costs to those in the affected areas. Do you do business in any of these devastated areas? Customers there? Suppliers? Do you know people who live in one or more of these areas? Do you have relatives there? Ask them what the real costs were—financial, environmental, and social.
We have not constructed our cities and towns, nor our businesses, nor our societies to handle 200-year events coming on the heels of 200-year events. Halfway through, 2017 was already the second hottest year on record, even without the effects of an El Nino event. If only 2017 were an anomaly. It’s not. It follows recent record-breaking hottest years of 2014, 2015, and 2016. This is way off the norm for recorded history. So much environmental catastrophe happening simultaneously, and often with one event compounding another, that this is no longer theoretical. All of these disasters have hit us within a short, six-week period. The conditions favoring these formerly extreme environmental events are occurring more and more often.
Positive psychology enters the mainstream of sustainability thinking
Does how you think about a challenge like sustainability impact your success in addressing it? Positive psychology tells us it does. The approach of building on what works vs. focusing on fixing problems is more likely to result in the increased collaboration needed to solve many paradoxes of sustainability. In stark juxtaposition to this dark reality, we are transfixed by a profound paradox of almost infinite positive possibilities for a new age of humanity that is unfolding before our eyes. On the positive side, we are heartened and hopeful by the integration of principles of positive psychology into the mainstream of sustainability thinking, such as the focus on positive leadership and business practices (Cameron, 2013), the purpose economy (Hurst, 2014), the circular economy (Lacy & Rutqvist, 2015), the sharing economy (Mason, 2016), activating purpose in organizations, building meaningful work for people, the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the movement to create a new narrative for business that encompasses a vision of a world that flourishes forever (Ehrenfeld, 2013; Laszlo & Brown, 2014). Throughout the second edition, we incorporate important advances on these principles of positive psychology and neuroscience, combined with our insights on the applicability of integrated and systems thinking to the sustainability discourse.
With cries from the Pope to CEOs of the largest corporations in the world to the UN all calling for fundamental rethinking of how we can and must create a sustainable and flourishing future for the next generation, and the next, we are convinced that it is not only possible, but that humanity is already moving inexorably towards a much needed and fundamental course correction. Yet sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back, in light of President Trump’s dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), support for Arctic drilling, resurrection of the coal and fossil fuel industry, and departure from the Paris Agreement.
From a long-term change perspective, Kurt Lewin famously spoke about three stages of change—unfreezing, changing, and refreezing (Burnes, 2004). As we see it, we are somewhere between the unfreezing and change stage with regard to sustainability, with movements back and forth until we come to settle on the “new normal.” Our hope is that the positive changes we are seeing around the new narrative for business in general, and business’ support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals in particular, will proliferate from large multinational corporations into small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as NGOs. We believe that as the millennial generation moves further into the mainstream of corporate leadership, and our institutions of higher education embed sustainability into their teachings (especially in the business schools and MBA levels), that cultures for sustainability will become more and more embedded. The pattern is much like in the quality movement of the 80s and 90s, and eventually sustainable business practices will become the norm and the only way to do business. We are writing this second edition to promote this vision, and make this prognostication not only possible, but doable!
Global sustainability trends and solutions are still emerging, but becoming clearer. Systems and rules that caused current conditions to exist are changing. We may not know if the pace of change is quick enough or if the intended resul...

Table of contents

Citation styles for The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook

APA 6 Citation

[author missing]. (2018). The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2018)

Chicago Citation

[author missing]. (2018) 2018. The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis.

Harvard Citation

[author missing] (2018) The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook. 2nd edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

[author missing]. The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis, 2018. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.