Given that I haven’t blogged in over two months now (busy, busy, busy!), it’s probably ambitious in the extreme to set such a target for the 55-minute guide series that Kevin Keohane and I started up a couple of years ago.
Nevertheless, with five books already in the bag (attracting nothing but four- and five-star reviews on Amazon too, btw), another three in the latter stages of development, plus ideas for at least another two, maybe it’s not a total pipe-dream?
To these hopefully soon-to-be-completed guides – including the 55-minute-guide to corporate branding (Dave Allen), user-centred design (William Hudson) and cross-cultural communication (Indy Neogy) – it’s also probably about time to add second editions to the books that started it all off, namely The Talent Journey and Live Long and Prosper.
For my part, I just started thinking this morning about my opening gambit for an updated book and figured I might as well share it here. Have a butcher’s and let me know what you think…
Preface to 2nd Edition
So, what’s changed since the first edition of this book was published two years ago?
The short answer, somewhat paradoxically, is both everything and nothing.
Slightly depressingly, what hasn’t changed is the vast majority of companies’ understanding of what it really means to be sustainable.
The ones who get the concepts and arguments laid out in this book have got it for a long time already. These include not only more recent start-ups, like the brilliant Icebreaker in New Zealand, for whom sustainability is the very essence of their business; they also comprise long-established corporations like Interface in the US and Marks & Spencer in the UK, who have recognised the changing frame conditions within which we’re now operating and that their long-term prosperity depends on nothing less than the redesign of core business strategy and operations.
Meanwhile, in general, those who didn’t get it before recession struck still don’t get it now. Indeed, if anything, all recession has done is to entrench short-term thinking.
Everywhere I look, momentum is growing. Sustainability is no longer the exclusive realm of hair-shirted environmentalists and pie-in-the-sky idealists.
The need for business to reconnect strategy to a sense of social progress – that creating shared value is perhaps the competitive advantage of the 21st century – is rapidly gaining currency, even in the hallowed corridors of Harvard Business School and other temples of traditional, left-brained management thinking.
When strategy guru, Michel Porter, starts proselytising about a more constructive form of capitalism, you know it’s time to pull on your track shoes. The kind of stuff that people like Paul Hawken, Ray Anderson and Jonathon Porritt have been talking and writing about for ages has finally hit the mainstream!
And for every poster-child of old-world CSR to have come an almighty cropper in recent times (not least BP, whose ‘Beyond Petroleum’ greenwash has come back to bite them royally on the bum in the wake of the disaster in the Mexican Gulf), there’s a story of another major corporation embracing new-world sustainability.
Consider the launch last year of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, for example, explicitly framed by CEO, Paul Polman, “not as a project to celebrate, but a new business model to implement,” based on the fundamental understanding that materially addressing sustainability not only offers opportunities to save costs, but is also a critical engine of innovation and brand equity.
In short, then, the case for building sustainable brands – and for a book that gives sympaticos and sceptics alike a quick and easy way of getting to grips with the big idea and how to action it – has never been stronger.
Don’t worry. While slightly expanded, with additional thoughts and visuals culled from my blog and my practical experiences of consulting with clients, I promise you’ll still be able to read this book from cover to cover in under an hour.
I hope you enjoy it.
Live long and prosper!