As part of one of my course works this semester, we were asked to read Andrew’s latest book called,’The Big Pivot’. It was quite a fast and interesting read and full of concrete steps although sometimes it may feel like the steps are a little impractical to implement immediately in an established major company.
The book’s title is taken from the reasoning that (in Andrew’s own words), ” We live in a fundamentally changed world. It’s time for your approach to strategy to change, too.The way companies currently operate will not allow them to keep up with the current—and future—rate of change. They need to make the big pivot.”
The mega challenges he feels we as a society and our businesses are facing include climate change, fast depleting natural resources coupled with intense consumer pressure from a growing global middle class.
His earlier works commented on why it’s good business to go green. This book focuses on how the mega challenges facing society make it imperative (as opposed to good for business) to incorporate sustainable strategies as part of the overall corporate strategy.
The book lists ten strategic moves for companies to apply to deal with these mega challenges on a long-term basis (the key word). These are:
1. Fight Short-Termism:
2. Set Big, Science-Based Goals:
3. Pursue Heretical Innovation:
4. Change the Incentives, Engage the Whole Organization
5. Redefine Return on Investment to Make Better Strategic Decisions
6. Put a Number on the Value of Natural Capital.
7. Become a Lobbyist.
8. Collaborate Radically
9. Inspire Customers to Care and to Use Less
10. Build a Resilient, Antifragile Company
Along the process he addresses some of the myths related to making these changes. First that going green is expensive. The truth is when done properly, it does save money in the long run and not only substantial amounts but savings that continue to pile up long after the initial investment. The example he gives is related to Diageo, a global beverage company. They cut their carbon by 75 to 80 percent in North America, and they cut 50 percent of that all through low and no-cost initiatives. It’s good business; it’s the opposite of prohibitively expensive. Then they took the leadership choice to take another 30 percent of their footprint down by investing in landfill methane from a place near one of their Canadian facilities.
Some of the anecdotes he retells are quite optimistic, such as the new-found partnership opportunities between what used to be one of the world’s most formidable competitors..Coke and Pepsi. They’ve been working together for a number of years on coming up with refrigerants that are less harmful to the environment. According to Andrew, realizing that companies can ask themselves, ‘What are we really competing on?’ and knowing that it’s not refrigerant technologies is also part of the big pivot.
The basic point the book tries to make is there is an urgent need for businesses to rethink their strategies and the need is based on their very survival. Thus what needs to be done, how soon and how are the new questions. We don’t have time to justify the why as that’s now been established and confirmed. The new goals that need to be set need to be externally driven not set by internal comfort levels. The book helps by both providing the new goals (or how to get information on them) and tools to achieve the goals.
My one skepticism is on getting these goals approved and implemented at large companies at the speed that is required. Maybe Andrew can hire all the graduates from my program and have us help implement; something similar to the EDF Climate Corps program.