Jul 22 2009

Book Short: A Twofer

Book Short:  A Twofer

My friend Andrew Winston, who is one of the nation’s gurus in corporate sustainability, just published his second book, this one from Harvard Business Press — Green Recovery:  Get Lean, Get Smart, and Emerge from the Downturn on Top.  It builds on the cases and successes he had with his first book, Green to Gold (post, link to book), which came out a couple years ago and has become the standard for how businesses embrace sustainability and use it to their financial and strategic competitive advantage rather than thinking of it as a burden or a cost center.

Green Recovery is a shorter read (my kind of business book), and it hits a few key themes:

  • Going green not only shouldn’t wait for better economic times, it’s a key way out of this mess

  • Businesses have relied on layoffs to cut costs for far too long — it’s time to get lean on stuff, not people
  • This is about survival for many businesses:  Detroit died because it missed the green wave of environmental interest and rising energy prices
  • And the overarching theme…Green doesn’t raise costs, it lowers them – it’s a source of profit and innovation

The book reminds me a lot of my post Living With Less, For Good, which I wrote at the beginning of the financial market freefall last fall, talking about how we as a company were figuring out how to cut back without cutting people (something we’ve managed to do).  Although I wasn’t talking about green initiatives specifically, the point of getting leaner on “stuff” really resonates with me.

At the end of the day, Andrew proves that steering your company to go green — no matter what industry you’re in — is a twofer:  you can increase the strength of the business and simultaneously do your part to clean up the environment.  That’s definitely the “change we can believe in” mentality applied quite pragmatically!