You need friends
If you believe the version of business as portrayed by The Apprentice, then it’s an every-man-for-himself, dog-eat-dog, devil-take-the-hindmost kind of world. Which is largely nonsense, as all of us in the real world know (well, most of us…). Business is about relationships and successful business is about trusted relationships, partnerships and collaboration. This is as true in the green business world as anywhere else, and there are many examples of where working with others has delivered mutual benefits:
- Businesses working together, often through trade bodies, to develop voluntary agreements such as the UK’s Courthald agreement between supermarkets and the food industry to reduce packaging;
- Businesses getting together through formal and informal networks to exchange best practice, experience and mutual support;
- Businesses working together to generate sufficient demand to bring sustainable technologies to market. The PostEurop consortium believe they have brought forward the production of hydrogen vehicles by a decade in this way;
- Businesses working together to use each other’s waste as a raw material such as in the industrial symbiosis cluster in Kalundborg, Denmark;
- Businesses working with environmental pressure groups to develop solutions to environmental problems such as WWF and Coca-Cola working together on watershed management;
- Businesses putting together ‘dream teams’ of trusted advisors who will challenge them to really deliver.
As always the flip side is true too. If associating with the ‘right’ people is an opportunity, not cutting ties with the ‘wrong’ people is a liability. When Apple and Pepsi left the US Chamber of Commerce over the latter’s stance on climate change legislation, they sent a clear message out to the whole world.