There are so many books being written about environmental and social responsibility it is impossible to keep up with all the new work, at least that's my excuse. On the other hand, there are key works that form the foundation and establish a common body of thought that we are all building from. On this page I'm building (over time) a reference area to share some of the seminal works that inform my thinking on sustainable business. And, I'm sharing recent reads that I find interesting. Please drop me a note with ideas for things I should include. (I receive no financial benefit or compensation from any endorsement expressed or implied)
hese works (in no particular order) form a core of the literature on sustainable business and provide a solid grounding to anyone interested in the field
More Recent Reads
I can't keep up with all the good work being published, but here's a running list of things I've found worth sharing.
The Ecology of Commerce
he book Ray Anderson said was like a spear through his heart - Hawken set out some of the core arguments for why natural systems should be considered valuable in economic terms, and how business might be more successful by considering that value in their decisions.
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins
"Thought leader" gets tossed around a lot, these three have defined what that is. Their individual and collective work, literature, research and contributions to, "the next industrial revolution" is foundational, inspired and hopeful. All three have gone on to many more contributions but this early work remains a cornerstone of the thought and vision that drives the sustainable business movement.
McDonough and Braungart
f you're looking for the "how to" on implementing sustainability - this isn't it. But if you're looking for a clear, compelling, sophisticated and elegant vision of a sustainable future along with the hope and inspiration that we can do it: Read this. Most of the thinking here was in Cradle to Cradle, but that was 10 years ago and most people only heard it half way. This update will help readers go the rest of the way to see the opportunity for business in redesigning everything to UpCycle.
John Makey and Raj Sisodia
e's controversial, he's a little irreverent and he's a little proud (justifiably) of the work done at WholeFoods - and they lay out a solid case for how and why business can deliver better financial returns by thinking about sustainable solutions. Give a copy to your CFO.
The Natural Step for Business
Brian Nattrass & Mary Altomare (Nattrass)
The Natural Step framework is a foundational piece of thinking that will ground any program or effort. This book was one of the first to look at how TNS can be applied in practical ways to the business environment.
From Me to We
've worked with Bob and studied under him, he has a great gift for meeting people where they are, but not leaving them there. In this book he shares some secrets for being an effective change agent within an organization - highly recommended. Bob's earlier work, especially on systems thinking is also foundational, his book Leading Change toward Sustainability should be my classics list
Cradle to Cradle
William McDonough, Michael Braungart
his book incorporates a lot of earlier thinking, but does a great job of explaining a new paradigm. Sustainability is not about doing less bad - this book gives a solid framework for thinking about how to design better outcomes - doing more good. Hopeful, uplifting and fundamentally helpful for those who want to be part of the solution.
Confessions of a Radial Industrialist
lassic or popular? Probably both. Can't say enough about Ray Anderson and his impact on the field and on me personally. His first book, Mid-course Correction is a wonderful story of personal transformation - in Confessions he shares his approach and this thinking on making business part of the solution instead of the problem. He was a wonderful person who is greatly missed.
The Sustainability Advantage
One of the earliest business executives to help others be more effective at presenting sustainable business ideas from inside the company. His lwork including later books like The Sustainability Champion's guidebook are invaluable for change agents.
Making Sustainablility Stick
There's risk here because I was flattered to be asked to co-author the chapter on corporate change; however, with that discloure out of the way I think this book is an excellent resource for people working on sustainable business. The subtitle says it all: The Blueprint for Successful Implementation. From helping to make the case from a business prospective to offering the "how to" needed to move the organization forward; this book captures a lot of real life experience to help make the shift from inside.
Capitalism at the Crossroads
Ever since he published Beyond Green Business as a Harvard Business Review article Stu Hart has influenced a whole generation of business strategy thinkers. The subtitle says it all: The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World's Most Difficult Problems