Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World

Overview

HOW THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL COMPANIES ARE BUILDING BUSINESS STRATEGIES THAT TACKLE THE BIGGEST GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Today’s business landscape is changing in fundamental ways: Natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive. Technology and changing consumer expectations are making transparency a fact of life. The rise of emerging economies creates vast market opportunities for companies—and better living standards for hundreds of millions. In Sustainable ...

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Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World

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Overview

HOW THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL COMPANIES ARE BUILDING BUSINESS STRATEGIES THAT TACKLE THE BIGGEST GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Today’s business landscape is changing in fundamental ways: Natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive. Technology and changing consumer expectations are making transparency a fact of life. The rise of emerging economies creates vast market opportunities for companies—and better living standards for hundreds of millions. In Sustainable Excellence, Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell tell the stories of the companies who are transforming themselves by responding to these paradigm shifts and in the process shaping the future.
 
From their work with these Global 1000 companies, Cramer and Karabell know firsthand how business can successfully grapple with big-picture issues like resource scarcity, supply chain complexities, and the diverse expectations of government and the public. In Sustainable Excellence, they tell the story of how Coca-Cola and Greenpeace collaborated on a refrigerator that fights climate change. They show how companies like Best Buy and Nike are transforming the very products they sell to deliver more value to consumers with less waste. They recount how GE and Google created an innovative partnership that is developing “smart grids” that radically reduce energy use. And they show how business leaders like Starbucks’ founder and CEO Howard Schultz put sustainable excellence at the center of his company’s business strategy.
 
Through these and other fascinating stories, Sustainable Excellence makes the case for a different way of doing business—one that will define both business success and economic vitality in the 21st century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
  “Sustainable Excellence provides an insightful window into the intersection of business and environment. Companies that take to heart the lessons Aron Cramer and Zach Karabell provide will be well positioned as natural resource constraints reshape the business landscape.” —Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy “Essential reading for any business aiming to understand how they can turn sustainability into opportunity.” —Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free “The Must-Read Book.” —Alice Korngold, Fast Company.com  “A smart, readable, and provocative book that argues that business success in the long run will be earned by companies that ‘integrate consideration of society and the environment into their DNA.’ ... This book gives us a reason for optimism, as well as a framework to understand the dramatic changes reshaping the corporate world.” —Marc Gunther, contributing writer to Fortune magazine and author of Faith and Fortune  “A compelling case for why a focus on sustainability ... is now a form of enlightened self-interest for businesses. ... An increasing vigilance by the business and investor community could play a big role in striking a new balance. Sustainable Excellence represents a major—and much needed—step in that direction.” —AOL’s Daily Finance
Publishers Weekly
In their first book together, Cramer, the CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, and Karabell (Superfusion) define a sustainable business as one that not only delivers value, but also treats people fairly, improves the living standards of its employees and community, and uses natural resources wisely. The authors are well-positioned to speak on the timely topic and, though their voices strike a nice blend between conversation and education, their effort suffers from disorganization and a lack of analysis. After the first chapter's discussion of five core elements executives should adopt to position their companies for sustainable excellence, tips and insights are few and far between, and too much time is devoted to emphasizing the importance of sustainability, a position that most readers drawn to the book will already be at least somewhat convinced of. The authors' narrow focus--only highlighting businesses pursuing sustainable excellence–reduces the need for analysis, results in a sort of literary greenwashing, and reads more like an early history of sustainability efforts than a business primer; it might satisfy history, business, or conservation buffs, but the CEO looking to achieve this future greatness in her own organization won't find much help here. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609611804
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 800,982
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Aron Cramer

ARON CRAMER has been the president and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility since 2004. Since he assumed the helm, the organization has more than doubled in size, with seven offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He lives in the San Francisco area.
 
ZACHARY KARABELL received his PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of ten critically acclaimed books, a money manager, and a CNBC contributor. He lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 18, 2010

    Good Book on a Tough Subject!

    In this book, authors Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell present their readers with a glimpse into the rarefied air of the business world. Their created concept of "sustainable excellence" refers to an emerging business model in which the business "delivers value for investors, customers, and employees; improves the living standards of its employees and the communities it touches; makes wise use of natural resources; and treats people fairly." Simply put, it is the model of a business with a social and moral conscience. According to the authors, this concept is not simply a goal for businesses to strive toward, but a bottom line necessity for survival in tomorrow's business atmosphere.

    The book describes the recent events that brought businesses to this need for sustainable excellence. They point to the emergence of activists in the 1970's and 80's, the effective end of the Cold War, the fall of the World Trade Center, the beginning of globalization, the blossoming of the internet, the growing concern about global warming and environmental concerns, the emergence of third world countries into viable business communities, and the recent Great Recession. Companies began to feel strong pressure to react to these events. The pressure was coming not just from their boards of directors, but from non-government groups like Greenpeace and PETA and also from grassroots groups made up of concerned people armed with the power of the internet and social networking. The atmosphere that confronted businesses dictated that they "do the right thing" in their impact on the world stage-environmentally, socially, and innovatively.

    The bulk of the book goes on to describe successful companies that are adjusting their focus and structure to respond to social and environmental issues of today. Some are creating new approaches to old products; some are creating new products that will be innovative metamorphoses of their old products; while some are moving in all new directions, creating products in vastly different arenas. Business strategies are being redefined with sustainability at their core. And these redefined businesses are becoming more and more common. The old way of doing things is becoming just that-an outdated way of doing business. There are fewer and fewer old-school businesses that are still viable because, say Cramer and Karabell, ".the model that propelled these companies to success in the twentieth century will not survive long in the twenty-first."

    This thought-provoking book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Thomas Friedman's books on the economy. Though not altogether an "easy read," this is not an easy subject. The book does a good job of educating those who are not mired in the business world on this vital new concept of corporate responsibility. I would definitely recommend it!

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