The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World
by Peter Senge, Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Lauer & Sara Schley, Doubleday, $29.95, 406 pages, Hardcover, June 2008, ISBN 9780385519014
In our annual magazine
published earlier this year, we lamented the lack of business books that tackle issues of the environment. Well, this year that has changed, as there have been numerous books on the topic published, such as Stirring It Up
by Gary Hirshberg, and Go Green, Live Rich
by Richard Bach. The latest is The Necessary Revolution
, and it is among the finest.
The authors lay out a fundamental irony at the beginning of this book. The environmental crisis we find ourselves in today is a direct result of the successes of the Industrial Revolution, successes that greatly improved our quality of life. And, yet, it is our quality of life that is now at stake, especially for the world's poor.
Applying "systems thinking"--a concept Senge introduced in his classic The Fifth Discipline
--to the environmental challenges we face, the authors conclude that we are living in an "Industrial Age Bubble," one similar to any other economic bubble. They believe "we have gotten into our predicament today because of a way of thinking that focuses on parts and neglects the whole. We have become masterful at focusing on immediate goals--such as short-term profits--and neglecting the larger systems of which quarterly profits are but one small part" (25).
This is a business book through and through, laying out a serious problem in business, relating stories of success, and giving you plans of action and tools to achieve a goal. It just so happens that the goal here is not just improving your business, but our entire future as well, by creating a more sustainable world. You'll read inspiring stories like Coca-Cola's partnership with The World Wildlife Fund addressing water management issues, and the Global Sustainable Food Lab--an effort to create sustainable food chains that includes food giants Unilever, Heinz, General Mills, Starbucks and Costco, and non-profits like Oxfam, the Rainforest Alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
For too long, many have seen business interests as antithetical to environmental causes. This book dispels that myth. "The revolution is not about giving up; it's about rediscovering what we value most. It is about making quality in living central in our communities, businesses, schools, and societies" (40).