Aug 21, 2009

"Green Recovery" by Andrew Winston-short review

Conserv-A-Store says:

This looks like an interesting book. We have not read it yet but plan to. We definitely buy into the "newer approach" of involving a societal component in how companies are rewarded by the market in which they compete and also in how their shareholders are rewarded.

The old Business school axiom of "shareholder return" at the expense of all else is partly what got us into this horrible economy we feel and we feel is way too "20th century" for us now.
We must realize that we are all on the Earth together and one man's product can be another man's garbage unless a holistic total product life cycle including disposal is considered.

We feel we are going in the right direction a bit and even if for some miraculous reason the economy bounds to near 2007 levels soon we will not totally duplicate the errors of those days.

"Green Recovery," or how to exit the recession clean

Has the economic recession forced you to abandon your company's projects to make the business more environmentally friendly?

Big mistake, says consultant and lecturer Andrew Winston in "Green Recovery" (Harvard Business Press, $18).

Those green initiatives are even more crucial now than when the economy was booming, Winston says, since they will position your company to outshine slower-moving competitors who are retrenching during the downturn.

"Going green may be the only path to survival," he writes in this "how-to" manual aimed at helping managers identify and put into effect environmentally friendly changes.

Winston's experience in speaking on green innovations at blue-chip companies shines through in a multitude of anecdotes throughout the 208-page booklet. Everything comes in five- to 10-point takeaways with repetition of his main theme: Green or perish.

Winston -- who co-authored "Green to Gold" on how companies can make money by being good environmental citizens -- peppers his latest book with success stories from household names:

-- DuPont cutting energy usage 6 percent while growing its business 40 percent;

-- UPS saving $3 million in fuel by eliminating left turns from its routes;

-- Home Depot reaping $16 million by installing greener lighting displays.

Companies using creative thinking to operate more cleanly and efficiently will emerge as lean and agile competitors -- with a motivated workforce and satisfied customers, Winston writes.

"Green Recovery" covers some well-trodden ground about rising costs of energy and commodities, the likelihood of new carbon emissions restrictions and growing pressure from consumers.

Simply putting managers' electricity or fuel bills in front of them -- and their peers -- can prompt them to find ways to be more efficient.

This is the "Prius effect," named for the Toyota hybrid car that displays fuel efficiency in real time. That creates a feedback loop that encourages drivers and car makers to continually increase efficiency.

The feel-good factor can motivate workers, Winston says, and creates goodwill among suppliers and customers.

Cutting energy or packaging costs are no-brainers for most managers, but Winston also highlights initiatives such as Waste Management's programs that help customers reduce waste -- and the amount they pay the company to haul it away.

Part of the premise of "Green Recovery" is a challenge to economist Milton Friedman's claim that "the social responsibility of business is to increase profits."

That has changed, Wilson says, as new generations of MBAs enter executive suites, looking for careers at environmentally responsible and sustainable companies instead of a fast track to riches.

Winston admits his view on corporate greening is optimistic: It's a world where upfront investments lead to cost savings that soon pay back the original expense and consumers reward the greenest companies.

"This book ... is focused more on success stories," Winston writes in a postscript. "I'm purposely presenting an optimistic view (for pessimistic times) of how green strategy can drive business performance."

Reuters online 8-21-09

(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Jack Reerink)

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