Is Everything Sustainable?


Sustainability - Creating value for customers, investors, and the environment

The buzz word I heard the entire month was "Sustainable."

Everything is about and everyone seems to have some angle on this word. It is in vogue I guess. It is touted on news, at seminars, in businesses, trumpeted by business leaders, law makers, in articles, from government officials, foundations, foreign countries, politicians, economists and comedians, just to name drop a few.

Believe it or not, I heard the spokespersons apply the term sustainability to issues from firms large and small; in the reference to farming, manufacturing, insurance, hospitals, banking, construction, design, engineering, sciences, medicine, pharmaceuticals, energy, utilities, chemicals, sports, services, architecture, finance, educaton, not-for-profits, entertainment, fuels, law, transportation, and even the government. And I probably missed hundreds of others.

From McDonalds, to Nike, to Starbucks, to Home Depot, to NASA, to the Pittsburgh Convention Center for the G-20, they all are talking about their efforts to develop a more sustainable businesses or sometimes called a greener business. Even the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys are looking for sustainability.

So if you're curious like me, you've got to dig into the term sustainable to find out how this really applies to a business coach (since I didn't hear business coaching in the dialogue all month) and what it might mean to my clients and your business.

According to the Wikipedia, "A sustainable business, or green business, is enterprise that has no negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy - a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line." (Editor's Note: The use of no negative impact might just cause a few disagreements.)

A sustainable business is any organization that participates in environmentally-friendly or green activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit. In other words, it is a business that "meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs." It is the process of assessing how to design products that will take advantage of the current environmental situation and how well a company's products perform with renewable resources.

The Brundtland Report emphasized that sustainability is a three-legged stool of people, planet, and profit. Sustainable businesses with the supply chain try to balance all three through the triple-bottom-line concept-using sustainable development and sustainable distribution to impact the environment, business growth, and the society.

As a business coach, I work with clients on a continual basis to assist them adopt best business practices. As a practical matter, it is yet to be seen how the economic landscape will evolve to adapt to this movement to a more sustainable or greener world. The economics will be one critical factor where my clients will lean on me a bit more to provide leadership, guidance and partnering with them to assistance in implementing sustainable solutions that improve their businesses.

Watch with a critical eye what opportunities exist with this movement because there is money to be made. I could be wrong, but I believe T. Boone Pickens, for example, just might make a few bucks on his movement for sustainable and "green" natural gas. For example, he continues to lobby congress to mandate that all new freight trucks be required to burn only natural gas instead of diesel fuel. If this is good economics, why isn't it being done today? And if it happens, it may be a tremendous opportunity for your business!

Adopting these sustainable practices can be good for us all and for future generations and might even improve our profitability. On the cynical side, I hope we are not mandated into a position where our hands become so tied and we lose our freedom to compete in the marketplace and are forced to mis-allocate our precious resources just because the new policies and legislation are labeled as sustainable or green.

By: John D. Laslavic, LPBCBusiness Coach/President ThistleSea Business Development, LLC

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