We all know the challenges of water scarcity, species extinction, and a host of other things that continue to worsen. Well yes, some good is coming out of organisations like the IGBC, LEED or Griha on ratings, or from green products and projects. But there are limits to how much you can achieve in business by slowing the velocity at which we are approaching a crisis. The things they do is not helping change course. We are tinkering around the edges of the market with new products and services. How can business transform things? That is the focus of the next phase of business sustainability, and we can see signs that it is emerging.
In a sense therefore all of these initiatives of the last ten years has been what we might call “enterprise integration” and has been founded on a model of business that has somewhat integrated sustainability into pre-existing business considerations. A five star hotel that is green rated for example, or a company that sells water and so draws many millions of litres from groundwater resources can only integrate. By contrast, the next phase of business sustainability, will be what you may want to call “market transformation” based, and will be founded on models where business will transform the market. Instead of waiting for a market shift to create incentives for sustainable practices, companies will create those shifts to enable new forms of business sustainability.
Enterprise integration is geared toward present-day measures of success; market transformation will help companies create tomorrow’s measures. The first is focused on reducing unsustainability; the second is focused on creating sustainability. The first attends to symptoms; the second attends to causes. The first focuses primarily inward toward the health and vitality of the organization; the second expands that focus to look outward toward the health and vitality of the market and society in which the organization operates. The first will help future leaders get a job in today’s marketplace; the second will help them develop a target for a lifelong career. The first is incremental, the second transformational.