And I’ll make no apologies for it. When it comes to examples that destroy the myth of either/or (i.e. that business can be both sustainable AND profitable – indeed MORE profitable), I can’t think of any stories to top it.
Of course, you can read his excellent books. You can take a look at the fabulous presentation he gave at TED. But there’s really no substitute for meeting the man himself and hearing the story first-hand.
If you’d like to do that, then you need to get on to the guys at Tomorrow’s Company, as he’s delivering their annual lecture on 3rd March. Places are going fast, so book now!
More pearls of wisdom from Ray: an aside
I first became aware of Ray and the Interface story, when he was interviewed in Joel Bakan’s 2004 film, The Corporation.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new 2-disc special edition of the film, which features over 8 hours of additional material, including further video footage of Ray.
In it, he makes some characteristically simple but very profound observations, most notably (given the recent failed talks in Copenhagen) on the role of governments.
He rightly rubbishes the role of regulation – all that does is encourage businesses to be “as bad as the law allows” (great phrase!).
Instead, he suggests that the most powerful lever of behavioural change is the taxation system which, right now, is totally arse-about-face (my words, not his!) when you consider what we want to be encouraging and discouraging – particularly in the current climate.
Most sensible people would agree that we want to be encouraging job creation and discouraging the whole linear “take, make, waste” system of industrial production – basically digging stuff up out of the ground and, ultimately, converting it into waste and pollution.
And yet we tax businesses on labour (e.g. in the form of National Insurance contributions here in the UK), whilst applying no taxes on the plundering of natural resources.
Just think of how it would change things if that was the other way around.