Creative Destruction and Sustainability
Probably the biggest single challenge I face is persuading people to stop doing what they’re doing and do something new. They nod and agree, most start doing the ‘good’ things, but few stop doing the ‘bad’. “Business as usual” is like a security blanket impregnated with cyanide – you think you want to cling onto it, but it will kill you in the end.
I’ve written a whole chapter in The Green Executive describing what a sustainable economy might look like, and it’s a heck of lot different from the one we’ve got now. Materials travel in cycles, toxins have been designed out and all energy is renewable. Products and services are designed not only to minimise material and energy flow, but also to enable sustainable behaviour in consumers.
It’s pretty obvious, but to make that economy we need to do two things:
1. Start building the sustainable economy;
2. Destroy the old unsustainable economy.
Trying to straddle the two might at first be better than not acting at all, but as the transformation continues you will find yourself back where you started. Competition, rising costs, legislation, depreciation of assets, accusations of greenwash – they’ll catch up with you in the end.
Try making two lists:
1. What are you going to do?
2. What are you going to stop doing?
It is the latter that will really drive innovation and allow you to leap ahead of the curve. But first you’ve got to let go of that security blanket.