The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success

The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success


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"When most people think of corporate responsibility, they are focusing on a business's effect on and relationship to stakeholders. A Responsible Business sees stakeholders as full partners and meaningful instruments for the evolution of healthier communities and more successful businesses."
from the Introduction

The Responsible Business offers a new and strategic approach to doing business that holistically integrates responsibility into all aspects of an organization, allowing for returns at every level, business and social. This book goes beyond the often well intentioned but limited attempts at sustainability to present a framework that allows organizations to bring responsibility into everything they do and re-imagine success. From innovation, product development, and production processes to business management, strategic planning, and shareholder development, the author shows how being a Responsible Business is a practical skill that can be applied day-to-day at every level of the business.

No longer just the role of a department or the job of CSR professionals, successful responsibility and business efforts start at the business level, are then taken to the corporate level, and are finally applied throughout the organization. The Responsible Business outlines a framework for building a responsibility and consciousness infrastructure that applies a living systems view to the business and inspires all of its stakeholders, including shareholders.

Throughout the book, illustrated by examples from technology to manufacturing, large and small, public and private, Sanford demonstrates how to make responsibility integral to all aspects of a business as an engine for innovation, profitability, and purpose.

Praise for The Responsible Business

"This is a very significant book. It makes it clear that businesses have a single boss with five interrelated aspects. The stories are among the crispest, most evocative case histories I have seen. The book is for any corporate leader trying to do the impossible: create a business that recreates the world."
Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief, strategy + business, and author, The Age of Heretics

"Carol Sanford offers us a proven, practical, and systems-based approach that integrates five stakeholder groups into a business system working as an integral whole. Essential reading for leaders wanting a system framework for sustainability and business success!"
Otto Scharmer, MIT Sloan senior lecturer; author, Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges; and coauthor, Presence

"The Responsible Business challenges many assumptions corporate leaders, investment advisors, and sustainability experts have long taken for granted. It provides a road map that can help innovative businesses think about how to be truly transformational."
Sam Ford, Fast Company expert blogger and director, Peppercom

"The powerful concepts in The Responsible Business have changed the process of sustainable development and how communities truly thrive. Indeed, these proven approaches will be the roadmap to truly achieve the deepest level of living communities."
Bill Reed, founding member of LEED System and coauthor, The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building

"Critical for re-imagining the future of business. Rarely a day goes by that I do not call on this way of thinking and looking at the world. It is useful for taking on the big business decisions that so many of us face every day."
Chad Holliday, chairman, Bank of America

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470648681
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,225,296
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

CAROL SANFORD has been the CEO of InterOctave, Inc., a global business resource to Fortune 500 and new economy businesses large and small, for over thirty years. In addition, Carol lectures at universities such as MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Washington Foster School of Business, and University of Michigan Ross School of Business on sustainability, business innovation, and corporate responsibility. Visit for additional content and information.

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Table of Contents

A Foreword from the Boardroom xiii
Chad Holliday

A Foreword from Academia xvii

Rebecca Henderson

Acknowledgments xxiii

Prologue: A New Business Mind xxv

Procter & Gamble (P&G): Responsibility Prototype xxvii

P&G’s Guiding Principles xxx

Bringing It Home xxxiii

Introduction: The Responsible Business xxxv

New Problem, Old Mind xxxv

Evolve Corporate Responsibility by Evolving Business Responsibility xxxix

Three Forks in the Road to Responsibility xl

A Framework for the Responsible Business xlii

From Add-on Responsibility to Full-on Responsibility xliv

About This Book xlv

About the Author xlvii

Part One: The Responsible Business: Reimagining Businesses of the Future 1

1 Stories from Three Continents 3

Herban Feast: Caring for Customers 3

Kingsford: Creating Collaboratively 7

Colgate, South Africa: Localizing Identity and Destiny 11

Seventh Generation: Regenerating Planetary Systems 15

E. I. DuPont: Engaging Shareholder Value 19

Panning for Gold 23

Conclusions 24

2 Stakeholders as Systemic Collaborators 25

The Meaning of Stakeholder 25

Stand in the Stakeholder’s Shoes 26

Stakeholders Affect Responsibility 27

Five Key Stakeholders and Their Stakes 29

Conclusions 37

3 Geometry of the Responsible Business 38

Systemic Stakeholder Framework 39

The Logic of the Pentad 41

Integrate Stakeholder Initiatives 44

Conclusions 48

4 Be Value-Adding, Not Value-Added 49

Value-Added is Not Value-Adding 51

Energize Caring Through Value-Adding Processes 52

Five Stakeholder Imperatives 53

Conclusions 81

5 Making the Responsible Business Pentad Work 82

Revolutionizing Business Models: Red Hat 82

From Commodity to Nondisplaceability: Kingsford 85

Deeply Connect to Your Customer: Herban Feast 108

Mission-Driven Meets Future-Proof: Seventh Generation 114

Change the World by Changing the Business: Colgate, South Africa 122

Conclusions 129

Part Two: Making IT Work: The Map to the Territory 131

6 Teaching an Organization to Star 133

Retrofit an Existing Business 134

Reverse Phases for a Start-up Responsible Business 150

Conclusions 152

7 Nonhierarchical Decision Making 154

Hierarchical Management is Irresponsible 154

Self-Organizing Decision Making is Responsible 156

Four Self-Organizing Capabilities 157

Conclusions 171

Part Three: Irresponsibility Happens: Reframing How Change Works 173

8 Responsibility Running Backward 175

Running Faster in the Wrong Direction 176

A 360-Degree Business Perspective 179

Make Something for Someone 180

From Backward to Forward Spin 182

Conclusions 185

9 Our Own Worst Enemies: Turning People Around 186

Brain Works 187

Three-Brained Decision Making 188

Triad of Mental Frames 189

Familiarity is the Enemy of Creativity 192

Incentives Narrow the Mind 195

Narrower Frames of Reference Cause the Pentad to Spin Backward 196

Leading from the Purposeful Mental Frame 196

Personal Development and Critical Thinking Skills 198

Conclusions 199

10 Cautionary Tales: Design for Prevention and Cure 200

Six Common Hazards 201

An Ounce of Prevention 216

Conclusions 218

Part Four: The Big Picture of Responsibility 219

11 A Responsible View of Capital 221

Stakeholder Return on Investment (ROI) 222

Conclusions 242

12 Assessing Responsibility 243

Systemic Responsibility Indicators 244

Conclusions 259

13 The Future of Responsibility 261

Getting from Here to There 262

Alternative Business Approaches 263

Responsible Investing Within the Current Legal Framework 275

Conclusions 277

Epilogue: Developing Capability for Responsibility 279

Three Capabilities Underlying Responsibility 280

A Final Reflection 283

Notes 287

Index 293

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