The Necessary Revolution

by Lara Killian

6 October 2008

 

Currently I’m about halfway through a book that ranks fairly high on the environmentally conscious scale. It’s printed on paper made from 100% recycled paper, and certified chlorine-free. The text was printed using soy-based inks and the book jacket with vegetable-based inks. And that’s not the most important part of the environmental impact of this book.

No, this is not some tree-hugging manual about how to live off the grid and harvest the fleece from your sheep so you can eventually knit sweaters out of handspun yarn. The book is Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution (2008) and it’s (gasp!) a management text.

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So far I’ve learned that it takes 200 liters of water to grow the resources to produce one liter of Coke. Read that sentence again if you have to. As for coffee, 140 liters are needed to end up with a single cup. Shock factor aside, the book elaborates on some of the unconventional partnerships that are being forged in the name of innovation with regard to preserving the environment, and cutting back on the human footprint. Coke teamed up with the World Wildlife Federation in 2007 in an effort to better manage their water supply, with a goal of not taking more water out of the system than they replenish.

The managers of the corporations and organizations of tomorrow need to have a thorough understanding of the impact that the growing population of the planet is having on its irreplaceable resources. Not only that, however, they need to think creatively to help establish jobs and industries that work to rebuild the environment and replenish vanishing resources. Because we will never get ourselves out of this mess if we can’t figure out how to make the bottom line worth everyone’s while. Senge and his co-authors have some excellent case studies and strategies for crafting a workable future where the environment benefits and managers can be proud of how they grow their business.

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