Tag Archives: Harvard Business Review

Bookmarked – a selection of recent articles that caught the eye

China Daily – SMEs given preferential policies in govt procurement

New York Times – The Ying and the Yang of Corporate Information

Stuff.co.nz – Gremlins’ delays add up to headaches

The Daily Telegraph – Apple iCloud: will the Cloud finally go mainstream?

Harvard Business Review – An Introvert’s Guide to Networking

ICMIF Blog –  Can Popular Capitalism go global?

The Lawyer – Never Knowingly Undersold: Employee Share Ownership

Ethos Journal – Common Purpose

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What sustainability – and business – leaders should learn from Steve Jobs

By David Bicknell

It’s a couple of weeks since Steve Jobs left us. Many tributes have been paid. With sustainability in mind, I liked this blog post from Andrew Winston entitled ‘What Sustainability should learn from Steve Jobs.’

It’s not so much about Apple and sustainability. But it’s about Steve Jobs’  eye for innovation and one important lesson that sustainability-minded leaders can learn from Jobs’ legacy: you should lead your customers and show them a better way.

Winston, who writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review, suggests that most large companies today are “fast followers” –  with ‘fiscal and strategic conservatism breeding a culture where execs prefer to wait and talk to customers before doing anything drastic. Of course customer (and other stakeholder) perspectives are critical. But as with tablet computers, when it comes to sustainability, often the customers don’t really know what they need.

“Companies often gather data on what their business customers think a sustainable product should be, and the survey might show that including recycled material is important, even if that’s a tiny part of the real footprint story. Nobody knows the value chain of your product and service as well as you do (or if someone else does, get them in the room pronto). So figure out where the impacts really lie and what you can do to reduce your customer’s footprint in ways they hadn’t considered. This might require asking heretical questions about whether the product should even exist in its current form or should be converted into more of a service.” 

Winston believes the next generation’s Steve Jobs is likely to focus on sustainability since that’s where the largest challenges and business opportunities lie.

I like Winston’s thinking on “fast followers.” It’s far easier to be a follower  than to take a lead, get out there, take a risk and make a market. That’s fine, as long as second place is somewhere, and not nowhere.

As well as sustainability and business leaders, maybe there’s also a lesson here for those who aspire to create public sector mutuals: to take a lead and show that there’s a better way.

Carbon Disclosure Project report discusses energy saving and low carbon benefits of Cloud Computing

David Bicknell

One of the most informed and engaging writers around sustainability and business is Andrew Winston, who writes a blog called Finding the Gold in Green and writes for the Harvard Business Review as well.

His blog discusses  a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project about the sustainability benefits of Cloud Computing

Here’s the intro to the report:

Across business, executives are looking for ways in which they can operate more sustainably and thereby increase their competitive edge. Information Communications Technology (ICT) is seen as a key area of focus for achieving sustainability goals. This report shows that business use of cloud computing can play an important role in an organisation’s sustainability and IT strategies: improving business process efficiency and flexibility whilst decreasing the emissions of IT operations.

This study used detailed case study evidence from 11 global firms and assessed the financial benefits and potential carbon reductions for a firm opting for a particular cloud computing service. It also demonstrates how projected cloud computing adoption could drive economy-wide business benefits from a financial and carbon reduction perspective in the US.

The results show that by 2020, large U.S. companies that use cloud computing can achieve annual energy savings of $12.3 billion and annual carbon reductions equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil – enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year.

The report also delves into the advantages and potential barriers to cloud computing adoption and gives insights from the multi-national firms that were interviewed.

Making Green Work – dare you commit corporate heresy?

I’m reposting this from my Computer Weekly Greentech blog because I think the ideas are equally applicable to the Campaign4Change.

Last week I took part in on a webinar ‘Making Green Work’, run by the Harvard Business Review and supported by Hitachi, which featured noted Green Business consultant Andrew Winston and which discussed the concept of sustainability within organisations.

Winston suggested that within firms, employees should be prepared to be heretics, thinking the unthinkable. For example, in the US, UPS has decided that because of the idling involved in deliveries, its routes schedule no left turns – we’d call it taking ‘no right turns’ here. That’s going to save UPS an estimated 28.5 million miles from its delivery routes, saving 3 million gallons of fuel, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by around 69 million pounds. But how do you create the organisational culture that allows ‘green heresy’ to flourish? Is this down to the CEO to drive the culture that allows this to happen? What role should other corporate officers play in this?

Equally, it’s clear that if such green heresy is to take place within organisations, senior corporate officers need to be incentivised to both think and do sustainability to such an extent that their remuneration depends on it. How far has this gone within the C-Suite? How many Chief Information Officers, for example, are truly thinking how technology can drive green innovation within the organisation, not just in terms of products, but processes, services and new business models? How many CIOs are actually incentivised in this way? And what do these models for remuneration look like? What do they mean for the CFO or even HR?

Winston recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review blogs how organisations like Xerox are working with customers to help them use less of their traditional product or service. It is sustainability that is driving the transformation of Xerox to a services-led business.

As Winston explains, “Xerox advises companies on how to save money on document handling, and holds a sizeable 48 per cent market share in the $7.78 billion “managed print services” (MPS) industry (according to research firm IDC). Part of this new strategy is an outsourcing play -they’ll take over all your print needs for you – to grab share. This is clearly not a niche business-this is a firm that existed on selling devices, paper, and machine servicing, so the more it’s used the better. But at the core, what Xerox is offering is less total printing. That’s a big shift in business as usual.”

You can read the piece here.

Although the original webinar discussed companies in the private sector, I’m sure the same ideas can apply within the public sector, especially in relation to IT projects, Cloud policy and the application of true sustainability. In other words, not corporate heresy, but government heresy. Think the unthinkable – and then do the un-doable.