Studying the environment to gain insight into organizational behavior can be a fascinating exercise, with advocates from Jane Jacobs to Margaret Wheatley among those who have helped us envision the inherent possibilities. What We Learned in the Rainforest
takes a similar but uniquely focused approach, as Mitsubishi Electric CEO Tachi Kiuchi and environmental advocate Bill Shireman tie development and sustainment of the rainforest directly to progressive practices of businesses such as Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, and Nike. Employing an interesting format--each section begins with the authors describing an ongoing parachute descent into the rainforest in order to illustrate a specific principle--Kiuchi and Shireman explain how concepts such as feedback, profit, design, and diversity aid both their natural laboratory and their corporate examples. In the "Succession" chapter, for instance, they relate a rainforest's "four phases of life" to the cycle of innovation, growth, improvement, and creative destruction that is experienced by successful businesses. With the goal of drawing on nature's wisdom rather than drawing down its physical resources, the book advances a vision of sustainability en route to profitability that is as provocative as it is potentially practical. --Howard Rothman
About the Author
Tachi Kiuchi is one of Japans best-known and most iconoclastic corporate executives. As Chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric America, he built the Mitsubishi Electric brand in the U.S. and managed the companys transition from the old to the new economy. As Managing Director of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, he broke with Japanese corporate norms to champion a living systems approach to business that included rapid adaptation, financial transparency, openness, cultural diversity, executive positions for women, and environmental sustainability. He even forged a bold agreement with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) to promote corporate sustainability. Today he continues to press for profitable and sustainable business practices at Mitsubishi and other major Japanese corporations.
Bill Shireman is one of Americas leading environmental advocates. Called a master of environmental entrepreneurism, he develops profitable strategies for sustainability. As head of the largest recycling lobby in the country, Shireman wrote Californias bottle bill recycling law. He then brokered deals between some of the worlds largest corporations and most impassioned activistsfrom Coca-Cola, Coors, Nike, Mitsubishi, and Weyerhaeuser, to Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and the Sierra Clubto recycle over 100 billion beverage containers, help save millions of acres of forest, and harness corporate buying power to drive down consumption of nonsustainable resources. Today he is CEO of Global Futures, serves as President of the Future 500, and leads a Corporate Accountability Practice (CAP) in partnership with Manning Selvage & Lee.