Strategy and Sustainability is the title I use to explore the link between business and environmental sustainability. I discuss the ideas in a book, courses for my MBA students, and in an online course on the Coursera platform.
- Book Published By Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2015
Business and environmental sustainability are not natural bedfellows. Business is about making money. Sustainability is about protecting the planet and the life forms on it. Business is measured in months and quarters. Climate change, deforestation, and the reduction in biodiversity occur over decades or even centuries. Business is about maximizing this year’s profit. Sustainability often requires significant short term costs to secure a very long term benefit. It’s difficult to bridge the gap.
Strategy and Sustainability encourage its readers to move beyond the hype and takes a decidedly pro-business, fact-based point of view, recognizing the complexity of the issues at hand and the strategic choices businesses can make. It blends the work of some of the leading academic thinkers in the field with practical examples from a variety of business sectors and geographies and offers a roadmap with which Sr. Management might think about engaging with the topic, not to save the planet but to fulfill its medium and long term responsibility to shareholders and other stakeholders.
- Course in the Full Time and Global Executive MBA
In the full-time MBA program, the course is offered as a 22 session elective in the second year of the program and deals with two perspectives. One is how business is responding to the challenge of environmental sustainability at the strategic level. The other is to explore what strategic options exist for entrepreneurs and activists interested in the environment.
The objective of the course is to prepare students to either play an active role in guiding the response of industrial and service companies to sustainability or to help develop a strategy for firms and institutions involved with the issue. Conceptual content is largely based on the book Strategy and Sustainability.
The course is largely based on case studies which I have either written or supervised over the last couple of years although it also uses MIT’s Fish banks simulation as well as a workshop on scenario planning. Recently developed case material includes case studies on Henkel, Dia, The Rocky Mountain Institute, PeePoo, Alsthom, The Copenhagen Consensus Center, and others.
Finally, as the entire subject of environmental sustainability is changing very quickly, I frequently invite guest speakers to class.
The course is also offered in 6 sessions in the Global Executive MBA program and is focused on considering how firms might choose to think about sustainability in terms of its impact on their businesses over the next few years and over the long term.
- On-line course
In order to reach a much larger audience, I have developed an on-line version of the material that can be taken on the Coursera platform. The course is built around 6 sessions each of which is then subdivided into six modules or segments. To date, more than 15,000 people have taken the course.
The course and additional information can be found here.