When I started down this path about 20 years ago corporations were the bad guys and responsible governments gently tried to reign them in.
Today, in many cases, that situation has flipped. There are plenty of examples of corporations leading on environmental and social responsibility while governments increasingly allow themselves to be distracted by pointless and destructive populist agendas.
It was striking at the latest Apple launch event that the biggest cheer was for the announcement that the latest MacBook Air is made from 100% recycled aluminium, in line with Apple’s commitment this summer to pursue a zero mining of new materials policy and building on their achievement of 100% renewable energy for their buildings and shops.
Apple are far from alone in these commitments, as well as companies you might expect like Google and Apple – HSBC, Deutche Bank, Pearsons, Dannon, Microsoft, SAP, Swiss Post, Intel and Walmart all run on 100% renewable energy.
Other corporations are making more dramatic commitments. DONG energy (Danish, Oil and Natural Gas) have divested all of their fossil fuel business and are now highly profitable and 100% renewable and have rebranded themselves as Orsted. Philip Morris have committed themselves to a post smoke future and VW are massively ramping up for an electric future.
Of course very little of this is driven by altruism, (or indeed by regulation) it is driven by something more powerful than that. The cold hard logic of the market and a desire to have a long term future. In all cases it is about what key stakeholders, specifically customers and perhaps more importantly potential employees are motivated by and a long term view of profitability.
We have entered a new phase of business where the ‘conventional’ model of cranking the handle is no longer enough. If all you are doing in your business is managing reliability, what you are actually doing is managing decline. In the “post-conventional” world it is no longer enough to crank the handle a bit faster or to be able to crank the handle via a website or from India, companies need to also be able to disrupt their own business model, before someone else does. This is what post conventional businesses do.
For this the skill required is not just reliable management, but also transformational leadership. We need to be able to both be reliable and disruptive at the same time. Not one or the other but both.
Mark and I have spent 15 years researching and ten years writing our new book ‘Stealing from the Future’ (and how you can stop it). We are immensely grateful to the thousands of managers and leaders we have worked with from dozens of companies who have helped us understand and frame these challenges and their solutions.
‘Stealing from the Future’ helps leaders at any level in an organisation understand why they need to create a transformational movement and how to do it in skilful ways that maximise benefit and minimise risk. Sustained success is the goal, for us as individual leaders, for businesses and for society as a whole.
There are just a few spaces available at the launch event for both the book and #campaignforauthenticleadership on 15 November in London. If you are able to make it, we would love to see you there. Available spaces are being snapped up quickly so if you are able to come please register here as soon as possible.
‘Stealing from the future’ will be available from 15 November in print on Amazon and as an e-book on both Amazon and the Apple iBook store. We also hope to make it available in other book shops.
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