Sustainability in Context – The 100th Essay

The 100th Essay

Jera Sustainable Development and this blog exist as resources for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. Each of the 100 essays that currently comprise this blog is intended to be useful. The approach is pragmatic, rather than ideological.

“… I’ve learned that we get the best outcomes when we make decisions that are rooted in evidence and experience — when we put aside ideology and focus on what works.” —
Former President Bill Clinton [1]

The Zoom Lens Mind

This blog consists of essays which are intended as practical information for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. However, there is considerable ambiguity as to what “Sustainability” means in a practical sense. Part of the ambiguity is ideological, associated with one’s political views. Even more ambiguity stems from the remarkably broad range of concerns associated with the term “Sustainability”. That broad range of concerns, in turn, stems from dramatic and systemic changes that are redefining the global business environment.

Try approaching Sustainability through a metaphorical zoom lens for the mind. A wide angle “zoomed out” view provides the context necessary to appreciate why Sustainability really isn’t optional for manufacturers in the 21st century. Given broad context, priorities can be rationally established. A “zoomed in” view allows one to focus on specifics — so that priority-driven actions are possible.

The “Zoomed Out” View

In broad context, it becomes clear that Sustainability is one of at least four global phenomena that are converging to redefine businesses, especially manufacturing businesses, for small firms along with large:

>> Sustainability addresses industry in relationship to humanity and to the natural world

>> Globalization refers to the increasingly international matrix of firms, markets, value chains and financial systems.

>> Technology encompasses the rapidly changing alternatives available globally, extending to products, processes, materials, transportation and communications.

>> Chronic Global Financial Turmoil manifests from global macroeconomic systems that are becoming increasingly obsolete in the face of Sustainability, Globalization and Technology.

“Zooming In”

While a few of the essays this blog presents do discuss big picture, “zoomed out” issues, most are constrained to aspects of Sustainability, hence are more immediately actionable. Essays are organized by “context” within Sustainability. A “context”, as used here, is a category or point of view. So, one can “zoom in” to a category within Sustainability, then “zoom in” further to specific essays.

Here are the Contexts, with links to a few of my favorite essays within each Context:


>> Strategy and Policy – Essays on Sustainability standards, Green strategy, strategy deployment, objectives setting, transparency and risk management.—part-1.aspx

>> Value Chain – Topics involving suppliers and customers across the entire life cycle of your organization’s products.


>> Resource Utilization – Essays on efficient use of materials, energy, capital, talent and other resources.


>> Green Products – Entries on product design, product safety and toxicity, Green marketing, product certifications, product stewardship and related matters.—innovation.aspx

>> Innovation – Essays on innovative products, processes, business relationships and business models.

>> Plant Operations – Topics such as lean manufacturing, process control, maintenance, environmental emissions, training and safety.—the-performance-curve.aspx


>> Stakeholders – Entries on shareholders, employees, neighbors, regulatory bodies, activists, financial institutions and other relationships.—the-triumph-of-technology-over-privacy.aspx


>> Green Finance – Essays on cash flow and following the money.


>> Getting Started – Enough said.—beyond-the-business-case.aspx


Chuck - Blue sweaterThe first 100 essays have been fun. I look forward to many more. Your thoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington

: Contact me when your organization is serious about pursuing Sustainability … CH

This blog and associated website ( are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published on Wednesday evenings.

[1] From his foreword to The Upcycle, W. McDonough and M. Braungart, North Point Press, New York (2013)