Zoomed-out Sustainability


The dramatic rate and extent of changes affecting business and its management here in the 21st century has been a recurring theme in the essays comprising this blog. As an organizational tool, I prefer to group these changes around four major change drivers: Globalization, Sustainability, Technology, and Demographics & Trends. [1]

Zoom Lens MindIn order to survive – never mind thrive – in the 21st century, business managers must cope with these changes and their implications. To do this, the scope of management’s day-to-day attention needs to expand to match the scope of these changes. Earlier essays have suggested a management process that resembles a zoom lens – a routine practice of zooming-out to a global prospective in order to recognize and assess these changes, then zooming-in to take appropriate actions. [2]

The scope of these changes can be downright mind-boggling. For starters, take the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals. These seventeen Goals are to be finalized next month (September 2015) and to be achieved by 2030. Right – just fifteen years from now:

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [3]

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

For Smaller Manufacturers

>> Politics and Pragmatics: Clearly, there is a wide range of opinion among managers regarding the United Nations and these Goals. It is also clear that the U.N. and these Goals have a political dimension. It is for the manager to consider the opinions of stakeholders (customers, for example), along with prospective political mandates (taxation or regulation, as examples) when assessing the potential impacts of each on any given business unit.

>> Opportunities and Challenges: To beg the obvious, the pursuit of these Goals on a global scale will provide truly significant business opportunities for many. Consideration of each of the Goals will suggest possibilities. However, new competitors will arrive, along with new opportunities.

>> Who Pays? Serious pursuit of these Goals will require serious resources. Somebody will have to pay for all actions and overheads associated with the pursuit of these Goals. It is reasonable to expect that “somebody” to be those who can marshal the necessary resources.

Chuck at ReneThoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

…  Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

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

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) 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 weekly.

[1] For more about the four change drivers, see: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2013/11/06/four-change-drivers-2/

[2] For more on zooming, see: http://jerasustainabledevelopment.com/2014/08/07/zooming-again/

[3] Information on each of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is available at: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/