In late 2012 The Conference Board posted a summary analysis of 94 Canadian corporate sustainability reports. The firms hailed from widely varied industries such as finance, mining, communications and retail and food. What did these sustainability reports have in common? Not as much as one might expect. Only 22% of the 585 performance indicators reported were used by more than three corporations. Over half of these performance indicators were used only once.
The report’s concluding statement that “Sustainability is complex, ambiguous, and does not have a clear endpoint.” is really only accurate if one tries to accept all of the 585 measures as valid and defining elements of sustainability. Sustainability, in fact, has a very clear endpoint and that is to never reach an endpoint. Simply put, “sustainability” is the ability to continue a given set of activities indefinitely.
Quantitatively, sustainability is maintaining a depletion to replenishment ratio that is below 1. Complexity and ambiguity are only introduced to this calculation by our present inability to quantify the denominator or supply aspect of the equation. For example, a firm cannot credibly claim that its “employee’s travel-related carbon footprint is sustainable” because this firm doesn’t know what the relevant environmental systems’ carrying capacity is.
We cannot expect firms to calculate the impossible but we can strive for greater intellectual rigor and honesty when we define and utilize terms like “sustainability” in the corporate strategic planning process. “Sustainability” certainly belongs at the aspirational vision statement-level of a guiding plan but may not be as useful at the mission statement and subordinate levels.
Celebrations, wonderful disruptors of the mindless rhythm of the routine, can transform cold and lonely milestones into warm shared nostalgia. Manifested as graduation picnics, holiday dinner parties and the occasional wedding, celebrations enrich and enliven our lives.
The problem? Only 1 in 3 Africans has access to electricity, and charging a mobile phone can cost up to 10 percent of a daily wage. Additionally, reliably supplying power to rural villages is far too costly using traditional approaches … Continue reading →
The good news is that some progress has been made toward the Millennium Development Goals; the overarching objective of eradicating extreme poverty is now taken seriously around the world. But there is bad news. Nature magazine assigned a grade of “F” to progress made toward the economic, social and environmental goals set during at 1992 U.N. Rio de Janeiro conference. Aid should put out of business. There’s this notion of graduation. Korea graduated. We need to assist other countries with the same progress. Ecophilia is deep part of human nature. Yet we need to evolve from the goal of sustainable development to a more fundamental goal of individual wellbeing. Without basic science we’re completely blind. Who runs the show? Companies do. We need to stop the propaganda and acknowledge the full costs of our activities. The whole economy is based on the energy economy. Renewable energy development must be accelerated for sustainability to be achieved. -Jeff Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General
1. Anthony Downs’ “Triple Convergence.” Trafﬁc in a transportation network forms self-adjusting relationships among different routes, times, and modes. Build more lanes and fewer people will take back roads, avoid rush hour or take mass transit.
2. Josh Kaufman’s “Golden Trifecta.” People feel important and “safe” when appreciation, courtesy and respect are shown. Simultaneous application of these three values will have a magnetic affect on others.
3. Robert Bogdan’s “Research Triangulation.” Data is best vetted through cross-verification from a minimum of three sources. Use this technique to increase your odds of unearthing a stable verdict.
This ad for rental storage in Manhattan makes absolutely no sense to me.
It may just be perfect fodder for a high involvement /emotional communications case study. I can’t figure it out. And that’s compelled me to do something I’ve never done before: initiate conversations about an advertisement.
Affluent consumers who take a look at the increasingly efficient global supply chains they benefit may experience ethically irksome impulses. But globalization is a complex beast and the field observations shared in Leslie Chang’s recent TED talk warrant a close review. Especially if you plan to continue to consume anything imported into the USA, or most anywhere in the world.
TEDGlobal 2012 Talk
Worker issues make me wonder what Apple could learn from Nike. And what I should learn from the workers who make the choices that they do.