There is no crueler economy than the environment. All living assets get one shot at life. If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere. So how can you apply Nature’s rules of sustainability to your business? Think biomimicry.
I am currently in the middle of an incredible book by eco-Wunderkind Adam Werbach (Are you still a Wunderkind in your 30’s?). At 23, Werbach was the youngest president of the Sierra Club, and he is currently global CEO of acclaimed ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi S, the “S” standing for “sustainability” in their quest to build the world’s largest sustainability agency.
Anywho, Werbach’s book, “Strategy for Sustainability” outlines what it truly means to be a sustainable company. To be sustainable is to “Thrive in Perpetuity,” which is built on for coequal components:
- Social (Acting as if other people matter)
- Economic (Operating profitably)
- Environmental (Protecting and restoring the ecosystem)
- Cultural (Protecting and valuing cultural diversity)
What I find incredibly interesting about his “manifesto” is how he applies nature’s 10 simple rules for survival to business. It’s pretty hard to argue with. Because in nature, if you’re not sustainable, you die. No bailouts!
How much of this are you, your business, or organization, biomimicking?
- Diversity across generations.
- Adapt to the changing environment – and specialize.
- Celebrate transparency. Every species knows which species will eat it and which will not.
- Plan and execute systematically, not compartmentally. Every part of a plant contributes to its growth
- Form groups and protect the young. Most animals travel in flocks, gaggles, and prides. Packs offer strength and efficacy.
- Integrate metrics. Nature brings the right information to the right place at the right time. When a tree needs water, the leaves curl; when there is rain, the curled leaves move more water to the root system.
- Improve with each cycle. Evolution is a strategy for long-term survival.
- Right-size regularly, rather than downsize occasionally. If an organism grows too big to support itself, it collapses; it if withers, it is eaten.
- Foster longevity, not immediate gratification. Nature does not buy on credit and uses resources only to the level that they can be renewed.
- Waste nothing, recycle everything. Some of the greatest opportunities in the 21st century will be turning waste – including inefficiency and under-utilization – into profit.