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Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2012
Embedded Sustainability is a must read for any business leader and actually anyone living on this planet. The authors provide a compelling case that it's not a choice whether business should embrace sustainability. If a business is to succeed, sustainability should be part of a company's DNA due to declining resources, increased (radical) transparency, and also increasing expectations from stakeholders. However, the question still remains as to how to embrace sustainability. Others have noted as well - such as studies by McKinsey as well as Boston Consulting Group and MIT - that sustainability is not a choice for companies anymore. However, what is missing is understanding the how of embedding sustainability into a company's strategy and daily operations. In that respect, the authors provide an excellent roadmap for organizations. Actually, I do not know of any other book at this time that does so. That is why I think it is a must read. If sustainability is no longer a choice and if there is no better current resource on how to implement it, Embedded Sustainability is a book any manager who wants to succeed needs to read.

Although the book is written in business venacular, implicit in the book is a positive message and hope for the future. If our planet is to become sustainable, not only must business be part of the solution; but also, business can also transform its own image. Currently, business leaders are among the least trusted and most looked "down upon" people in society (very close to politicians). Yet, it can be these same business leaders that can help us get out of this mess we created. Doing so not only has great consequences for the planet but also builds a favorable image of the business towards consumers, society, as well as motivating employees to actually feel good about coming to work. Having said that, other authors have argued how sustainability can also improve image. But what sets this book apart is that if sustainability is truly embedded, then it is not false marketing or greenwashing. Contrary to companies who might throw a few dollars here and there, have employee volunteer 10 hours a year, or have one-off sustainability projects, embedding sustainability is about completely changing the culture of an organization form one that is short-term exploitation oriented to one that cares about the well-being of all stakeholders - and thus good business.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Embedded Sustainability makes a compelling case that sustainability is here to stay, and that organizational leaders should embrace the opportunities created by this new phenomenon. Premising their case on the three distinct but interconnected trends of declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations, Laszlo and Zhexembayeva present a powerful new paradigm to turn these challenges into organizational advantage.

Highlighting that the boundaries between organizations, customers, the media and government are blurring, the authors argue that it is time for sustainability to migrate from a bolt-on strategy running parallel to the organization's key strategy to becoming holistically embedded in the culture and operational dynamics of the organization.

A must-read for senior leaders of organizations of all sizes, as well as consultants and scholars, this book describes how to create strategy that creates value for both shareholders and stakeholders of the organization - a concept that the authors term sustainable value. What differentiates this book from other sustainability books is that the authors' work is founded upon research, and not just supposition, while maintaining easy readability. In taking this scholarly approach, this book avoids the trap of ideology that so often surrounds sustainability, and delivers a pragmatic roadmap for organizations serious about competing in the new world reality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I applaud Laszlo and Zhexembayeva on their highly readable ground breaking book that charts the way for executives to lead their organizations in a changing world. As pointed in the MIT Sloan Management Review's Sustainability & Innovation Survey of global Corporate Leaders the trend towards companies adopting sustainability practices is clear. However even of those embracing sustainability few have figured out how to be truly strategic and transformative in their approach.

As the three big trends highlighted in Embedded Sustainability (declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations) take hold the rules of business success will fundamentally change. While many in business are seeing this changing landscape only a few visionary CEOs have begun embedding sustainability in ways that will enable their organizations to capitalize on one of the biggest business opportunities of the 21st Century.

The history of business is littered with "has been" companies who failed to anticipate and embrace change from outside their everyday field of vision. For example, Fortune 50 companies of the 70's and 80's included names such as Bethlehem Steel, RCA, ITT industries and Eastman Kodak; companies that no longer exist or are mere shadows of their former selves. And of the original Fortune 500 Companies of 1955 only 11 are still on the list.

The winners of tomorrow must not only anticipate a new world, they must also shape the future and transform their organizations. Embedded Sustainability is the definitive strategic and transformational guide for those executives who will lead their organizations to emerge as tomorrow's winners. The book leverages the latest and most innovative thinking in strategy and organizational transformation and uniquely integrates this with an original groundbreaking approach to creating opportunity while addressing the greatest challenges mankind has ever faced.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2011
Embedded Sustainability is a "must read" for business leaders who want to learn how to create a winning business strategy for their company by embedding environmentally and socially sustainable business practices. Laszlo and Zhexembayeva's premise for their book is that we now live in a world of declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations. Because of this changed landscape, there are now new opportunities to gain a competitive advantage through the incorporation of sustainable practices.

While the authors would undoubtedly acknowledge that sustainable practices are environmentally and socially beneficial, the book is not about promoting environmental or social responsibility for its own sake. Hence, their arguments are not moral in nature. Instead, they describe through numerous examples how embedding sustainability into the DNA of one's business strategy and operations (with no tradeoffs in price or quality) can create the kind of deep sustainable value that leads to business success.

Several aspects of the book are particularly impressive. First are their numerous real world examples of how sustainable practices can be used to improve one's strategic positioning in an existing market, as well as create new uncontested market space. Second, are their descriptions of the processes used by numerous companies to make such changes.

Toward the end of the book, the authors' tone changes radically as they share a vision of a possible sustainable future through the eyes of a remarkably smart fictional job seeker, Jake, in year 2041. Through this story format, the reader is invited to imagine what "business as usual" might mean when sustainability is fully embedded in corporate strategy. They then conclude by inviting the reader to engage in inquiries into fundamental assumptions underlying business, sustainability, the role of government and the nonprofit sector, strategy, and more. All in all, a very interesting, encouraging, and instructive read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2014
Embedded Sustainability makes an attempt to communicate its readers that the corporate world must embrace now and in the future a new model of economic thinking that incorporates in their actions the “embedded” environmental and social costs associated with corporate decisions and activities in order for them to have a promising business future. This is a welcoming call and one that is currently being made buy other authors in the economic fields (see Pavan Sukhdev writings for instance) including the multiple discussions today in the field of design and architecture. However, in the manner in which this new book is designed, the narrative is a bit circuitous (if not clumsy) using a narrative that is forever cyclic, zigzagging and delaying, forcing the reader to go over the first 150 plus pages still wandering if the authors are ever going to reach a crucial point (thesis) so that we can start enjoying a meaningful discussion. Italo Calvino‘s “Six Memos for the Next Millennium” instructed all of us on the need for lightness, quickness and exactitude, much in the same manner that Vitruvius instructed architects to fallow the virtues of firmitas, utilitas, venustas (solid, useful and beautiful). In essence, the thesis of the book is in the last six pages of the Afterword that requires 224 pages of introduction explaining the “big picture.”
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2011
Congratulations to Dr. Laszlo and Mrs. Zhexembayeva.
One of the best books I ever read on Sustainability.

The concept of the ES Cloud is really interesting from a standpoint how to create even higher value for your customers and investors.

Sustainability is clearly a priority, but it's not enough for it to be a priority. Priorities change with conditions! They change with financial performance, they change with the economy, etc.

Core values don't. Sustainability is CORE, and should be embedded in your company, if you wanna thrive in the decades to come.

Read this book!

David Laurier
Belgium
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2012
Bought the book as it was a pre-reading for my class. The concepts of tying business and sustainability are amazing and I highly recommend reading the book. I was fortunate enough to attend the class conducted by the writer himself. The examples and future trends will surely help you make sound business decisions. Will surely keep this book in my never do away with list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
I teach in one of the leading "green" MBA programs and I find this book so helpful and instructional that I assign it for students. There are a lot of books on sustainability, but I find this author insightful and truly helpful for understanding what it really means and how to really do it for your business.
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on October 13, 2013
Our company, True Market Solutions, works with Chris Laszlo. We use this book as the core textbook for our Sustainability Learning Circles. We feel Dr. Laszlo's identification of the difference between embedded and bolted-on sustainability really defines the key question of our age. If we are to continue to flourish, the subject of Chris' next book written with numerous co-authors, we must move beyond the mind-sets and business models that have put us in the precarious position we find ourselves in. This book provides a thorough theoretical basis for understanding why pursuit of real sustainability is the mother of radical innovation. Radical innovation is what delivers breakthrough advances in business model, products, market, brand, reputation, and industry leadership that prevents companies and organizations from being blind-sided by trends they don't see, and delivers true profits. Profits come from innovation and meeting market needs that the market doesn't even know it needs. Truly valuing sustainability as a core of business strategy has been clearly demonstrated in study after study to help businesses stay at the head the pack in profitability. Well worth a detailed reading.
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on October 24, 2011
Embedded Sustainability: The Next Big Competitive Advantage has an important message and is an easy read. The authors have managed to take the many dimensional, and complex issue of sustainability and make it relevant for any business leader in any industry. This book explains the urgency for businesses to embrace the concepts of sustainability in order to ensure their own survival in this ever intertwined world that is becoming more and more transparent. This book clearly illustrates the importance of embedding sustainability into any organization and provides a guide on how to do so. The authors have done important work here, by taking the conversation of sustainability beyond environmental efforts, into the realms of value creation and profit increase. They make a compelling business case for doing good while doing well, at a time when businesses most need to embrace this message and make it part of their business model.
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