Synopses & Reviews
HOW THE WORLDS MOST INFLUENTIAL COMPANIES ARE BUILDING BUSINESS STRATEGIES THAT TACKLE THE BIGGEST GLOBAL CHALLENGES
Todays business landscape is changing in fundamental ways: Natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive. Technology and changing consumer expectations are making transparency a fact of life. The rise of emerging economies creates vast market opportunities for companies—and better living standards for hundreds of millions. In Sustainable Excellence, Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell tell the stories of the companies who are transforming themselves by responding to these paradigm shifts and in the process shaping the future. From their work with these Global 1000 companies, Cramer and Karabell know firsthand how business can successfully grapple with big-picture issues like resource scarcity, supply chain complexities, and the diverse expectations of government and the public. In Sustainable Excellence, they tell the story of how Coca-Cola and Greenpeace collaborated on a refrigerator that fights climate change. They show how companies like Best Buy and Nike are transforming the very products they sell to deliver more value to consumers with less waste. They recount how GE and Google created an innovative partnership that is developing “smart grids” that radically reduce energy use. And they show how business leaders like Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz put sustainable excellence at the center of his companys business strategy. Through these and other fascinating stories, Sustainable Excellence makes the case for a different way of doing business—one that will define both business success and economic vitality in the 21st century.
"In their first book together, Cramer, the CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, and Karabell (Superfusion) define a sustainable business as one that not only delivers value, but also treats people fairly, improves the living standards of its employees and community, and uses natural resources wisely. The authors are well-positioned to speak on the timely topic and, though their voices strike a nice blend between conversation and education, their effort suffers from disorganization and a lack of analysis. After the first chapter's discussion of five core elements executives should adopt to position their companies for sustainable excellence, tips and insights are few and far between, and too much time is devoted to emphasizing the importance of sustainability, a position that most readers drawn to the book will already be at least somewhat convinced of. The authors' narrow focus-only highlighting businesses pursuing sustainable excellence-reduces the need for analysis, results in a sort of literary greenwashing, and reads more like an early history of sustainability efforts than a business primer; it might satisfy history, business, or conservation buffs, but the CEO looking to achieve this future greatness in her own organization won't find much help here.
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A pioneering work about integrating environmentally responsible practices with the aims
of big business
It is becoming increasingly clear that todays business landscape is changing in fundamental ways: Natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive, technology has created unprecedented transparency, and emerging markets are rising in importance. In Sustainable Excellence, Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell tell the stories of the companies who are remaking themselves to respond toand shapethese paradigm shifts.
From their work with these Global 1000 companies, Karabell and Cramer know firsthand how big-picture issues like global warming, new international regimes, and reducing ones carbon footprint actually play out in the world of big business. Companies like Ikea and Novo Nordisk focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings. Nike now publishes information on all of its subcontractor factoriesinformation they fought to keep private only a decade ago. GE and Google have partnered to develop renewable energy technologies.
Through these and other fascinating case studies of major companies partnering with environmental advocacy groups, Sustainable Excellence tells the history of the uneasy relationship between business and environmental concerns, laying the groundwork for how business will need to be conducted in the 21st century.
Todays business landscape is changing in fundamental ways. While natural resources are growing ever more scarce and expensive, technology and changing consumer expectations are making transparency a fact of life. In Sustainable Excellence, Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell examine Coca-Cola, GE, Nike, Starbucks, and many other companies that are transforming themselves by responding to these paradigm shifts and in the process shaping the future. Through these and other fascinating stories, Sustainable Excellence makes the case for a different way of doing business—one that will define both business success and economic vitality in the 21st century.
About the Author
has been the president and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility since 2004. Since he assumed the helm, the organization has more than doubled in size, with seven offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He lives in the San Francisco area. Zachary Karabell
received his PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of ten critically acclaimed books, a money manager, and a CNBC contributor. He lives in New York City.