1. Introduction

"Once upon a time..."  You must buy/read this book because...


How the Toolkit Helps Create Strongly Sustainable Outcomes


How the 4 pieces of the SSBM Toolkit (Design Principles, Tool, Method and Examples) fit to the 5 Level Strategic Sustainable Development  Planning Framework (references below)
 
5 Level Strategic Success Planning Framework - Karl Henrick-Robért

A draft has been prepared of the mapping of the SSBM Toolkit to this framework.

Robèrt, K. (2000). Tools and concepts for sustainable development, how do they relate to a general framework for sustainable development, and to each other? Journal of Cleaner Production, 8(3), 243-254. doi:10.1016/S0959-6526(00)00011-1

Waldron, D., Robèrt, K., Leung, P., McKay, M., Dyer, G., Blume, R., . . . Connell, T. (2008). Guide to the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development. ( No. Not Stated). Blekinge, Sweeden: Blekinge Institute of Technology.


Other Introductory Materials

Conceptually the introduction also includes 

  • Flyleaf Materials  such as Author bios, book summary
  • Advanced Praise written by recognized business model innovation authorities
  • Foreword written by recognized better business authority
  • Afterword written by recognized better business business model innovation authority (could be a member of the Core Development Team!)
  • Testimonials, Advanced Praise and Reaction to…  from authorities who have read and (ideally) used the toolkit to positive effect
  •  Reviews from journalists, business model and better business authorities. and toolkit users / bloggers
  • Interviews by journalists, business model and better business authorities. and toolkit users / bloggers

Some Ideas for Stories for the Introduction

Idea #1

In the 1980s / early 1990s, before sustainability was on many peoples radar, some academics and politicians argued for (a return) to the "kinder, gentler" corporation (i.e. Charles Handy's comments in the early 1990s about the "implicit social license to operate").  What these folks were really saying to shareholders, BoD's and corporate leaders was "its better to be nice, because nice things will then happen".  A rather weak argument in face of the massive predominance of "monetary profit first" thinking. 

But with sustainability I think in the strength of the argument is very much stronger.  As a result of interest in sustainability (as we have come to understand sustainability is a species / planetary survival requirement) we have mounting natural and social science evidence.  This is tending to show (i.e. not conclusive yet) that environmental and social (and hence monetary) sustainability can ONLY be achieved if we move the goals of our firm's away from profit first (i.e. we adopt a "balanced" view of profit, a la Blattberg's re-conception). 

So, being blunt, shareholders, owner, BoD's and managers now face a different choice:. 

  1. Perhaps make a lot of money in the shorter term; be comfortable that to do this your behaviour is:
      • Not likely to be environmentally or socially (i.e. morally) very good, 
        • AND (and this is the kicker) 
      • Be very likely to go bust in the medium term (i.e. higher risk to shareholder / owner capital). 
        • Remember ~65% of companies go bust in <7 years and we all know the famous stat about the turn over in companies in the NYSE 100 in the past 100 years.
    • OR
  1. Possibly (but not definitely, given Bob Willard's arguments) moderate the amount of money you make in the short term, and be comfortable that to this you behaviour is
      • Likely to be environmentally and socially "good",
      • Have lower the risk to your shareholders / owners (and all your other stakeholders),  and
      • More likely to exist  in the long term (i.e. the firm will be sustainable)

I think this is a MUCH stronger argument than the earlier one because of the impact of our understanding of sustainability.  I think  that many (not all)  business people would a) understand these choices, and b) tend to pick #2 over #1. 

I note of course that:

    • #1 is intellectually and practically much easier than #2 (and hence will often FEEL less risky...which prevents a lot of people from taking #2 seriously),
    • But for how long will stakeholder accept the REAL significant incremental risk of #1 over #2. 

I use REAL here to mean: due to recent natural and social science we now have scientifically valid evidence which is allowing us to quantify the risks.  People who choose #1 may FEEL better but, based on this scientific evidence, in reality are taking the much riskier path, and they are implicitly or explicitly CHOOSING to ignore the evidence.  Of course this level of risk only goes up the longer humans continue down the path described as "business as usual" by the 1972 "Limits to Growth" models (there has been recent work to confirm we are very much still on this "business as usual" path.

Idea #2

The argument presented in section 4.7.2 of Antony Upward's thesis "Towards a Theory for the Conditions Required for Strongly Sustainable Organizations" could also be a source of ideas for the introduction (although it could also be used to introduce the design principles, as per this blog post: http://slab.ocad.ca/SSOs_towards_design_principles)

Idea #3

The argument set-out at the start of this blog post http://slab.ocad.ca/SSBMs_defining_the_field, which arguments for a new field of research and practice regarding strongly sustainable business models is described could also be a source of idea for the introduction.

Idea #4

Building on Idea #1, the idea that the book won't preach, won't tell, won't prescribe - but will take an empathetic approach to its readers local and very real (perceived) constraints on their ability to believe and act.  But it will also be clear, based on the science, on what is required and that even if there are very real barriers to achieving these in the near term, acting as best as we can today with these goals in mind is critical.

So this is a practically oriented book - a book and a tool aimed at helping people more efficiently and effectively bringing into being businesses that better align with what we know from the science of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

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Antony Upward,
Jan 24, 2013, 8:09 PM
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