9 Jun 2009
The Bottom Line: business gets real about the economy…
There is that old saying about how when a new idea emerges, at first it is derided, then ignored, and then finally treated as though it had always been there (or something). It was fascinating listening, a few days ago, to a programme on Radio 4 called ‘The Bottom Line‘, which you can listen to here for the next few days. Host Evan Davis brought together Dr Shumeet Banerji, chief executive of management consultants Booz and Co, Rita Clifton, chairman of Interbrand London, and hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry, founder of Eclectica Asset Management to discuss various business issues of the day. In this week’s show they discussed whether the downturn is here to stay and whether people should embrace a new era of austerity. Six months ago the very idea would have been derided, but it is fascinating in this programme to hear how far such people have shifted. The discussion takes place in the second half of the show, and is well worth a listen. So much for the ‘green shoots’ talked about by some politicians, here are 3 leading business people who seem to have a much clearer sense of what extraordinary times these are, more akin to the Grazia journalist I quoted last week. Fascinating stuff.
9 Jun 8:26am
I wonder how long it will be before our business community start “coming out” here in New Zealand. A few independent observers and journalists are outspoken, but I don’t hear much from the business community yet.
9 Jun 6:33pm
So do you think that they’re going far enough now?
I understand that you find them a lot better at this point, but are they ultimately in line with a Transition approach? Or they just closer to a Transition approach?
9 Jun 8:29pm
Thanks for reminding us about the “first ideas are derided…..” thought – right now I needed that reminder. The truth will be self-evident to all – given time…lets hope its not too much time….
10 Jun 7:13am
No, of course not, they didn’t discuss practicalities, or scale or much that those in Transition talk about…. what struck me though was how the idea the austerity is here to stay and we need to think creatively about it and that actually it might not be such a bad thing after all was discussed in such sensible and respectful tones. Even 6 months ago it would have been a jokey piece about ‘The Good Life’ or something, now it is centrestage and discussed as though it was obvious to everyone..
10 Jun 9:03am
Events like the EcoBuild Show at Earls Court in March and SustainabilityLive at the NEC in May show how businesses are recognising sustainability as a business opportunity. At both shows this year, bigger, older companies were present in greater strength than previously, but they will be out-flanked by younger, more nimble businesses, grounded in genuine understanding of the issues. For the latter, it isn’t just “greenwash”. There’s scope for a lot more discussion of the role of business in transition and of transition in business. This Radio 4 piece and events like EcoBuild and SustainabilityLive, bringing previously/apparently irreconcilable concepts together, are very encouraging.
10 Jun 10:00pm
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
11 Jun 7:20pm
I was very heartened recently to discover Peter Senge (author of The Fifth Discipline, a widely praised management/organization development resource) published a must-read for business leaders in 2008. His new book is called A Necessary Revolution and it focuses on the urgent need for corporations and businesses to embrace sustainability.
It contains information about peak oil, climate change, water shortages, etc.; introduces models that describe “zero waste” in production; case studies from huge corporations that are rethinking their business practices; and many tools for individuals inside organizations to learn how to “enroll” others in this critical work.
I’m not in agreement with everything he states, but I’m thrilled that he is driving the conversation in the business arena.