“Redesign work, cultivate human potential, achieve extraordinary outcomes,” is the subtitle of sustainable business thought-leader Carol Sanford’s newest book, “The Regenerative Business.” Sanford has consulted for corporations ranging from Google, Intel and DuPont to Seventh Generation, a growing recycled-paper products company.
But in her vision, sustainability for businesses has implications beyond just businesses, but also for the rest of the planet.
“Although Carol often works with fairly big corporations, the content of this is relevant to starts-ups, it’s relevant to nonprofits and for-profits, it’s relevant to mid-size and huge organizations,” said Max Zahniser, a co-founder of the Sustainability Nexus, which has been organizing a series of Urban Regeneration Forums to bring regenerative ideas into the Philadelphia dialogue around sustainability.
Sanford will be in Philadelphia on July 24 for a free talk at CityCoHo as part of Sustainability Nexus’ regenerative offerings, which at past forums has focused on applying regeneration to development and built environments, as well as on climate resiliency. Previously the author of “The Responsible Business ” and “The Responsible Entrepreneur,” she is considered a leader in the sphere of regenerative thinking and innovative, disruptive businesses.
Regenerative thinking applies to businesses by recognizing the activity of an organization and its members as a living organism that is part of a larger living system. The ideas apply to how managers and employees work together, how a business affects the world around it, and also lead to broader engagement with topics like climate change, water and food stability, and human self-determination and development.
While most regenerative thought does include concerns about environmental issues, businesses centered around these ideas also perform more competitively, reports Sanford’s organization, the Carol Sanford Institute. After working with large corporate clients to re-conceptualize the various roles within a company, they’ve reported system-wide productivity increase of 45 percent, a 20 percent drop in operating costs and even better market share — all while emphasizing “organic evolvement toward managing environmental and social accountability.”
“Sometimes it’s this really interesting revelation to people to think about companies as living systems,” Zahniser said. Sometimes people say, ‘the regenerative business, that probably doesn’t apply to me.’ It probably does, actually. It’s really any community of humans and actually even beyond that.”