Deep into our sustainability program, I have to say there might be something to this business school outlook. Hmmm....
How many people find supply chain management to be a sexy topic? Well, now I know better, and I can tell you that supply chains are sexy. What's the big lesson from studying supply chain management? The innovators for business success are also the likely innovators for anything else, including sustainability. Wanna find a partner for a sustainability project? Look for a sustainability partner among the business winners, and try to turn them into sustainability winners. Belive it? Well you should believe it.
Too often, we environmentalists find our favorite conservation partners among the underdogs of the economy, the "little guy" who is being crushed by competition. Why do we like underdogs? We tend to believe the stories, that they're pursuing sustainable practices and being slaughtered by ruthless unsustainable business practices.
IS THIS TRUE? IT'S A REALLY, REALLY BIG QUESTION.
I've been worrying about this question for a couple of years, and I'm learning things this week that reinforce my view that conservation advocates need to focus on the winners of the capitalist competition.
Two things. The winners are the ones with the ability to change the world. If they adopt new practices, they can influence a whole business ecosystem of suppliers and customers.
Also, the winners are the ones with the entrepreneurial energy to innovate. If they innovate to make money, then they can innovate for sustainability. So what about the people who are losing the economic competition? Adding sustainability to their operation isn't going to turn them into winners.
Is that just a ruthless, cutthroat attitude? Assuming that capitalism is good? No, it's a realistic view of what it takes to make change in the fisheries production system. Change will come from influential people who want to tackle big problems, and have the ability to turn ideas into viable solutions...the winners of the business competition.
OK, maybe it's not so simple, but I still think it's a mistake to look among the little guys for most of our conservation partners. Look at me, I'm really in business school now.