Customer Reviews: Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model
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This book deserves more than five stars.
Mr. Anderson has taken an important step forward in leading Interface Corporation towards becoming ecologically neutral. By that phrase, ecologically neutral, I mean taking nothing from and adding nothing to the environment. This concept has become a popular one in Europe beginning in Sweden, in the form of The Natural Step, but has been much more slowly adopted in the United States. Those who are interested in understanding the processes by which a company can pursue improved environmental performance will find many helpful examples in Mid-Course Correction.
What if you don't care about your company's impact on the environment? Mr. Anderson makes a powerful argument based on his experiences at Interface that you should. First, it is much cheaper to produce goods and services if you use less materials and waste less. This means higher profits. Do you care about profits? Second, the pursuit of sustainability attracts many new customers and better supplier relationships. That also means higher profits. Third, people feel better about themselves. Do you like to feel better about yourself? Fourth, perhaps you should rethink your position about the environment. Even if we have enough for now, if we waste it, we are robbing our own descendents at some point of a good quality life. Mr. Anderson describes many cases of where despoilage of nature from overuse has been very expensive and undesirable by anyone's standard.
He also cites many of the leading books on the benefits of an ecologically sustainable business world. In fact, this movement will become a disruptive technology by making those who waste unable to compete with those who do not. Think about it.
To me, the value in the book is in Mr. Anderson's fine example of how to lead towards becoming environmentally sustainable as a company. I have been aware of most of the arguments in favor of this (including The Natural Step), but could not imagine how an American company would go about pursuing this goal. I also could not imagine how it could be reconciled with public ownership of stock. So much for my tiny imagination. Now, with Mr. Anderson's book, I can understand (and so can you) that becoming a sustainable enterprise is simply good business as well as being a good citizen. That will make sense to almost anyone.
After you read this wonderful book, I encourage you to share you copy with another person and ask them to do the same. This message needs to be spread if our companies are to fulfill their potential, and we are to have a world that we can all be proud of and enjoy living in. Then, I urge you to take this one step further, and think about how your family could become an ecologically sustainable unit.
Do good and do well!
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on September 1, 1999
As an environmental management student I have become increasingly cynical and despairing of industry's token gestures toward the environment. How can the mounting pile of evidence about the collapse of earth's ecosystems be ignored and the plundering continue? I was alternately absolutely shattered and completely stunned reading this book, the facts are there and simply cannot be ignored any longer: If man ignores the earth then earth will ignore the man. Ray Anderson is a man who is not ignoring the earth and is using his corporate influence and his heart to make a difference. Anderson is a visionary, he knows it's not going to be easy but doesn't accept this as an excuse not to try. Where he leads he leaves a trail for others to follow and this gives me such hope for the future of our planet and tomorrow's child.
The book is written in a casual style, you're talking with Ray. It has a large font with double spacing so is completely readable. Read it then pass it on to everybody you know, then read it again.
Thank you Ray for waking up and making a difference, you're an inspiration to me.
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on October 12, 2000
Ray Anderson is the CEO of Interface Corporation, a manufacturer of carpet tiles for businesses and hotel chains. After reading Paul Hawken's The Ecology of Commerce and Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, Anderson revolutionized his beliefs and how his company does business. He is now striving for 100-percent sustainability by having zero waste, reusing materials, not using non-renewable resources, such as petroleum, and by leasing his carpet rather than selling it. Why this is important: 1) The obvious reasons such as not being wasteful and polluting, 2) Interface is now a model for all industry, 3) Anderson shows how sustainability is more profitable, and 4) Anderson's model shows that it only takes changing minds to be a successfully revolutionary--not street protests, letters to the editor, petitions, meditation, spiritual consciousness, believing in God, lobbying Congress, protesting governments and/or corporations, and all the typically tried and often painfully slow ways to enact positive change. Brilliant.
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on July 23, 2003
I would highly recommend this book for those of you who are convinced big business will eventually destroy our earth.
I was impressed that a non-scientist/engineer would even attempt to write a book like this. His excitement about the potential for saving the environment came through in his text. He laid out the goals his company had set for achieving a state beyond zero waste, returning to the earth as much as was taken from it. I believe it takes a visionary to apply such abstract ideas and commit to making them real. And the fact that he was able to make a business arguement for sustainable development was reassuring because, realistically, if businesses can be convinced that this will help them make money, it is much more likely to happen. That's clearly what I saw with the pollution prevention movement and it just might happen here.
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on July 10, 1999
Ray Anderson is a visionary, and Interface is providing an archetype for corporations to aspire to in the next century. I heard Ray speak in Eugene last fall and was stunned with his humility and sincerity about his vision for sustainable business practice, and how he and the people of Interface are putting that vision into practice. This book is written in an accessible, even homey style, yet it is profoundly sincere and convincing. Moreover, Ray has taken on a personal mission to spread the gospel of sustainability to the corporate community. Ray is an inspiring writer and speaker, and I most strongly recommend this book to those interested in doing good while doing well!
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on April 1, 1999
Ray Anderson must have met Pogo. Here's an industrialist who's figured out that business and industry have created most of the environmental crises we face -- and that the they are the ones with the resources and power to address our monumental and growing problems. Give the man credit -- he's putting the people in his $1.5billion dollar, international company to work practicing what he's preaching. I'm impressed. And I'm giving copies of the important book to everyone I know who cares about the planet and is ready to do something about those concerns.
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on July 3, 2006
This is the personal and eco-spiritual journey of Ray Anderson - the CEO of Interface, Inc., the world's largest producer of floor coverings. The book chronicals Ray Anderson's mid-life "change of heart" concerning the negative impact his business was having on the eco-systems of earth. Moved by this new awareness, Anderson sets off on an intensive study of the topic (much of which he writes about here) and sets the audacious goal of transforming his company into the first truly sustainable enterprise (which is a work in-progess of course).

Admittedly, much of what Mr. Anderson writes here is an amalgam of the writings of the major environmental proponents of the 80's & 90's, but told in a personalized way as it relates to Interface's carpeting business. He forms a framework and rationale of why sustainable business is essential and gives many useful stories of how Interface struggled to define and achieve continuous improvement in the quest for sustainability - a journey Anderson likens to "climbing Mt. Everest."

Some highlights I found useful include:
+ A vision of prototypical sustainable company of the 21st century
+ The case how technology must move from being part of the problem to being part of the solution to non-sustainability
+ Interface's seven-front plan for achieving sustainability (nice color charts)
+ A great example of how Interface is moving from selling consumable products to be discarded (floorcovering) to providing an ongoing service (replaceable floorcovering that is taken back and recycled using zero-waste, solar-energy processes).

While this book is now 10 years old, it is still relevant and useful - although some concepts are dated (eg: solar is now economically realizable in many places but not written as such). For readers who like books that tell a story, there should be much inspiration here in the author's memoirs. And for those who look for the "how-to" lists, there is a wonderful, comprehensive list of 200-some practices a company can implement to achieve greater sustainability. Those with responsibily to implement sustainable practices should find these highly practical actions invaluable (worth buying the book just for this).

In any societal movement, true visionaries are needed to set the bar and define ultimate goals. Interface is one such organization. However, no organization, business or community is anywhere near being truly sustainable so far. Interface is no where near it, and their recyclable carpet "leasing" program has not quite been a big success - so far - as they miscalculated some customer behaviors needed to change. But it is better than it was years ago which is the basic journey towards truly sustainable products and operations.
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on December 20, 2013
one mans/companies story of how to totally buy into going green and make a more successful company and lifestyle out of it. Overall this book is extremely interesting and had a chance to meet he author a few years back and talk to him about it. He said after doing the 180 with his company and seeing all the rewards it got him, his company, all of his employees, and the environment, he wondered why more people didn't do it, so he wanted to share his story with everyone. Ultimately, we want a better life for our children(as every generation does,) but if more people don't buy into these ides, simple idea of using less, un-nasty stuff in our life/world, we are headed for the first generation in forever that will have it worse off than their parents with all the toxins in the air, food, water and no natural resources for the ever growing population.

Read it now, it is a must read book, for so many reasons, if you hate it, fine, but you won't.

P.S.-this is not a road map or a technical book, more of a easy reading story.
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on March 10, 2016
I had seen a documentary of PBS about Interface so I bought Anderson's book hoping to read about all the sustainability measures he had put in place. Instead it was 200 pages of typical CEO "chest-thumping."
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on January 18, 2013
Anderson shines as a pioneer of eco-capitalism. An clear case for efficient and sustainable business practices that aren't just about feel-good, tree-hugging moral values but actually result in a better bottom line for business. Highly recommend. This book should be mandatory for all MBA students.
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