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Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto Hardcover – July 6, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Press (July 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142217770X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422177709
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


...a smart book about creating a workable sustainability plan for your organization. --Associations Now, June 2009

...useful and refreshingly nondoctrinaire book...tells vivid and interlocked stories that stick in the brain. --Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2009

About the Author

Adam Werbach is Global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. He was the youngest-ever (at age twenty-three years) National President of the Sierra Club at and is the author of the widely circulated speech, "Is Environmentalism Dead?"

Customer Reviews

I don't see that this example proves the point.
Karen Tiede
There are ways laid out to map your progress as well as detailed examples from a few companies that are using these models successfully.
Sheri Fogarty
This is a good 4-star read, even for those not generally interested in business books.
John Williamson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Karen Tiede VINE VOICE on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First, read Robert Morris' thorough 5-star review to get an overview of this book's contents.

The author's frustration at not being able to persuade New Orleans' leaders of the risks of a hurricane inspired this book. I appreciate the passion. However, I came away confused, feeling that perhaps the passion was driving his writing faster than he could evaluate what actually reached the page; that perhaps there were more thoughts behind the words than were actually communicated by the ink on the paper.

p7: "Innovate differently, and win, or continue to innovate narrowly, and lose." Has Werbach not read The Innovator's Dilemma? "Innovating differently" is an enormous challenge to established companies and isn't going to be solved by exhortation.

p. 20: "Nature obsesses over protecting its young." No, only for some vertebrates. Not for oysters, or pine trees, or any of the bazillion R-strategist species, which have better survival profiles in unstable environments than the K-strategists that invest heavily in gestation and nuturing babies.

p. 20: "Integrate metrics. Nature brings the right information to the right place at the right time. When a tree needs water, the leaves curl." Huh? This is the place where I began to wonder whether there was some major additional thinking behind the words because the words didn't make sense to me. How on earth are curling leaves metrics information to the tree? Curling leaves are a survival "behavior," and perhaps metrics to someone with a watering can. But I don't water trees...

(There's actually a whole lot more on this particular page that leaves me scratching my head, pondering how the author's view of nature-as-business-model is different from mine.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Newby VINE VOICE on June 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm really torn about this book because I think the author is clearly brilliant and he is exploring a point of view that is unique, or, at the very least, the first of many authors to publish books in this vein in the coming months.

If you are a business executive with a disposition to sustainability, this book will speak to you and is a must read. He does a pretty good job comparing his perspective to other thinking, such as that of Jim Collins (Built to Last, Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall).

But he opens with an anecdote of how he couldn't reach the leadership in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina and he feels professional regret about not being able to frame his argument in a way it would be received.

I think that's noble and he has tried very hard to be persuasive--speaking in the language of the receiver--in this book, but he almost overly does so, pulling every business and societal buzzword (down to transparency) as conditions to be successful in meeting business and sustainability goals. Heck, actually, sustainability itself is a buzzword these days.

So, what comes out is a well-thought thesis for action, and, despite my headline, a potential roadmap. But, it's potential in that it is theoritical. I think he knows this--hence, the "Manifesto," in the subtitle. "Manifesto" worked for Jerry McGuire, though, and this author evokes similar passion.

Temper your expectations, and I think you'll be impressed with the book and retain--even apply--many of the ideas. Look to this at the ultimate prescription for sustainability in business, and you'll be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Likes to eat Pi on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Overall I really liked this book. While Werbach clearly has an environmental streak, he really does a good job of showing the reader that sustainability is more then just environmentalism, and how his long term strategies can help anyone build an enterprise which is successful in the long term. He encourages people to develop what he calls "north star goals" - goals that can be accomplished in 5-15 years and have a beneficial effect on the enterprise and society. His main strategies that he tries to drive home are (summarizing from page 19):
* Diversify across generations
* Adapt to the changing environment
* Celebrate transparency
* Plan and execute systematically, not compartmentally.
* Integrate metrics
* Improve with each cycle
* Right-size regularly, rather than downsize occasionally
* Foster longevity, not immediate gratification
* waste nothing

Unfortunately his organization could use some work. His best definition of sustainability actually comes in the conclusion of the book! (Sustainability means meeting your needs now, while not compromising your ability to meet your needs in the future). There are also a few acronyms he invents that he doesn't define until after they've been used.

The most glaring omission in the book is that while he has loads of examples and ideas, he focuses almost exclusive on the manufacturing sector of the economy, and ignores the service sector. He does mention that his ideas can be applied to the service sector too, but it would be nice to see him give more than just lip service to that notion.
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More About the Author

Adam Werbach, Global CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi S

Adam Werbach is the author of Strategy for Sustainability, published by Harvard Business Press. Werbach is widely known as one of the foremost experts in sustainability strategy. In 1996, at age 23, Werbach was elected the youngest-ever President of the Sierra Club, the oldest and largest environmental organization in the United States. Since then, Werbach has declared environmentalism dead, built and sold three companies, and merged with global ideas company Saatchi & Saatchi to create the world's largest sustainability agency, Saatchi & Saatchi S.

As Global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, Werbach guides sustainability work from China to South Africa to Brazil, advising companies with nearly $1 trillion in combined annual sales, including Walmart, Procter & Gamble, General Mills and WellPoint. Werbach worked with Walmart to engage the company's 1.9 million Associates in its sustainability effort, creating the Personal Sustainability Project ("PSP").

Twice elected to the International Board of Greenpeace, Werbach is a frequent commentator on sustainable business, appearing on networks including BBC, NPR, and CNN, and shows ranging from the The O'Reilly Factor to Charlie Rose. He lives in San Francisco's Bernal Heights with his wife Lyn and children Mila, Pearl and Simon.

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