The Necessary Revolution

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-04-06
  • Publisher: Crown Business

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Imagine a world in which the excess energy from one business would be used to heat another. Where buildings need less and less energy around the world, and where “regenerative” commercial buildings – ones that create more energy than they use – are being designed. A world in which environmentally sound products and processes would be more cost-effective than wasteful ones. A world in which corporations such as Costco, Nike, BP, and countless others are forming partnerships with environmental and social justice organizations to ensure better stewardship of the earth and better livelihoods in the developing world. Now, stop imagining – that world is already emerging.

A revolution is underway in today’s organizations. As Peter Senge and his co-authors reveal in The Necessary Revolution, companies around the world are boldly leading the change from dead-end “business as usual” tactics to transformative strategies that are essential for creating a flourishing, sustainable world. There is a long way to go, but the era of denial has ended. Today’s most innovative leaders are recognizing that for the sake of our companies and our world, we must implement revolutionary—not just incremental—changes in the way we live and work.

Brimming with inspiring stories from individuals and organizations tackling social and environmental problems around the globe, The Necessary Revolution reveals how ordinary people at every level are transforming their businesses and communities. By working collaboratively across boundaries, they are exploring and putting into place unprecedented solutions that move beyond just being “less bad” to creating pathways that will enable us to flourish in an increasingly interdependent world. Among the stories in these pages are the evolution of Sweden’s “Green Zone,” Alcoa’s water use reduction goals, GE’s ecoimagination initiative, and Seventh Generation’s decision to shift some of their advertising to youth-led social change programs.

At its heart, The Necessary Revolution contains a wealth of strategies that individuals and organizations can use — specific tools and ways of thinking — to help us build the confidence and competence to respond effectively to the greatest challenge of our time. It is an essential guidebook for all of us who recognize the need to act and work together—now—to create a sustainable world, both for ourselves and for the generations to follow.

Author Biography

Peter Senge was named as one of the 24 people who had “the greatest influence on business strategy over the last 100 years” by the Journal of Business Strategy

PETER SENGE, senior lecturer at MIT and the founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), is the author or co-author of several bestselling books, including The Fifth Discipline, Schools That Learn, and Presence. BRYAN SMITH, coauthor with Senge of The Dance of Change and two other Fifth Discipline fieldbooks, is a member of the faculty at York University’s Sustainable Enterprise Academy, and president of Broad Reach Innovations, Inc. NINA KRUSCHWITZ, manager of the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook Project, is the editor of Reflections: The SoL Journal on Knowledge, Learning, and Change. JOE LAUR and SARA SCHLEY co-founded the SoL Sustainability Consortium in 1998; Joe is vice president of content for Greenopolis.com, and Sara is a mentor for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.


A Future Awaiting Our Choices

Anyone visiting Australia today cannot help but notice massive billboards in all the major cities encouraging people to conserve water. A natural response would be to think these are the result of recent drought conditions, and indeed they are–in a way. But though the signs are new, the drought they were erected in response to has gone on for years and shows no sign of improvement. Across the nation, water reservoirs are at roughly one-quarter of capacity and have been declining for a decade–thanks to a combination of subnormal rainfall and rising temperatures widely attributed by leading scientifi c panels to climate change. (1) Starting in 2007, water became the focus of national debates;
one popular suggestion even called for the complete elimination of the nation’s large citrus crop. This sounds drastic, but when there is simply not enough water to go around, hard choices need to be made, even if that means sacrifi cing an important crop in an industry that accounts for roughly 3 percent of GDP. The country’s national election in fall 2007 was the first in the world in which climate change was the number one issue
(and the candidate deemed most dedicated to addressing it won), a possible harbinger for other countries in the coming years, including the United States.

But in addition to conserving resources such as water, innovative Australians everywhere are also seizing the opportunity to rethink and re-create their lives and the infrastructures that govern them. They are working together in communities across the country to come up with renewable energy solutions, and beginning to consider sweeping changes in energy and water industries. Business, long dominated by mining and minerals industries, has become a vocal advocate for investment in innovative alternative energy technologies, such as wind and solar.

Half a world away, Sweden has parted ways with other industrial economies to completely sever their dependence on imported oil–and the vulnerability that goes along with it. Under former prime minister Göran Persson, a commission was established in 2006 that laid out a fifteen-year plan to cut fossil fuel use to zero by 2020. This momentous shift was, in fact, the outcome of decades of work by remarkable networks of public and private sector leaders committed to making northern Sweden the world’s first “bioregion,” in which all energy needs are met from sustainably produced biofuels.

Similar changes are occurring in businesses the world over. In response to the turmoil of world oil markets and oil-producing regions, DuPont, one of the largest and oldest companies in America, has set itself on a course to shift its product line from petroleum-based to bio-based feedstocks. Like many companies around the world, DuPont has worked for years to reduce waste, including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But it now sees that the real innovation opportunities lie in the creation of new products that break the company’s dependency on conventional oil and gas entirely. Similarly, Nike has reduced its “carbon footprint” by more than 75 percent. But, again, by looking for the truly innovative opportunities for the future, the company has declared its intent to achieve zero waste, zero toxicity, and 100 percent recyclability across its entire product line by 2020. “Our company and our customers care about health; our products and ways of producing them should embody this,” says Darcy Winslow, former head of the women’s footwear division. “But to do this we are having to completely rethink how we design, produce, and distribute those products and how we recover them at the end of their lifetime.”

There are many types of revolutions. History talks mostly of political revolutions, dramatic events that all too often represent little real change over the

Excerpted from The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World by Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Laur, Sara Schley, Peter M. Senge
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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This is a wonderful textbook July 14, 2011
Peter Senge and his co-authors reveal in The Necessary Revolution, companies around the world are boldly leading the change from dead-end “business as usual” tactics to transformative strategies that are essential for creating a flourishing, sustainable world. The authors demonstrate that sustainability issues are part of an interconnected global dilemma that affects everyone. The textbook is well cited, with many footnotes and references provided to the reader so a fair and balanced perspective can be reached. Overall it is a fairly interesting textbook to read.
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The Necessary Revolution: 4 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

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