- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780470558423
- ISBN-13: 978-0470558423
- ASIN: 0470558423
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win Hardcover – March 15, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
With the public increasingly embracing ecological sustainability, many businesses have pledged to be good corporate citizens-but how committed are they? Hollender, chairman of clean household company Seventh Generation, shares his own company's process of redefining its mission and values, and makes an unimpeachable argument for how sustainable business practices protect both the environment and employees. However, he fails to obviate criticisms or concerns that companies can remain competitive and profitable while undergoing the transition to becoming more environmentally conscious. For example, Hollender describes how outdoor clothing and equipment company Patagonia decided to move from chemically grown or treated cotton and wool to "good cotton," only to find that their demand exceeded supply. Patagonia had to convert farmers to new growing methods, which increased the price of their product. While the company "eventually right-sized itself," and "influenced far bigger companies... to follow its lead," it is unclear what the company's return on investment was or how long it took to achieve. While corporate responsibility is an incontrovertibly attractive ethos, this work skimps on the finer points and complications of making this necessary-but complex-transition.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"While the book lays down the business case of sustainable and responsible companies succinctly, it also gives key pointers on the way leadership is set to change in the coming years. " —CNBC.com, April 1, 2010
"Hollender’s access combined with Breen’s reporting skills produce unusually detailed and thoughtful profiles." —Inc. Magazine, April 2010
"While outwardly your business is driven by your social mission, what happens inside your company is an expression of that mission as well. That means also focusing your passionate energy inward to create a fair and beneficial work environment for your employees. In his new book, The Responsibility Revolution, Hollender describes this principleas striving to be authentically good, by building the mission into every part of your business."—Inc.com, March 31, 2010
"Most companies understand that pursuing a laudable mission can amount to a land of rich opportunity. But to successfully travel the road to corporate responsibility, an enterprise must navigate around six daunting land mines…"—HuffingtonPost.com, March 15, 2010
"Entertaining and thought-provoking."—JustMeans.com, March 15, 2010
"In his new book, Jeffrey shows companies how to surpass sustainability and makes a clear case that going beyond sustainability is a competitive advantage."—CauseCapitalism.com, March 15, 2010
"Unlike many of its companions on the shelf in the business section, this book is a pleasure to read. Much of the over-used CSR jargon is absent, the authors have jettisoned ‘bloodless buzzwords like ‘corporate responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ in the first steps of their revolution. The writing is vibrant, pointed, and succinct, much like the advice it imparts."—The CSR Digest, March 15, 2010
"Hollender is at his best when evangelizing and encouraging vision. He likes to tell the story of how his company came to be called Seventh Generation, quoting from the founding document of the native American Iroquois confederacy, ‘In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.’ Thinking like that would truly make for a responsible—and sustainable—business revolution."—Business Ethics, March 18, 2010
"Hollender, chairman of clean household company Seventh Generation, shares his own company's process of redefining its mission and values, and makes an unimpeachable argument for how sustainable business practices protect both the environment and employees."—Publishers Weekly, March 2010
Articles, excerpts, interviews, Q&A, and mentions with the authors also from:
—Harvard Business Review blog, March 31, 2010
—Forbes.com, March 31, 2010
—CNNMoney.com, March 29, 2010
—TheDailyGreen.com, March 29, 2010
—Harvard Business Review, March 2010
"Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen give us the inside scoop on how truly responsible companies out-think and out-perform their conventional-minded competitors. Part manual and part manifesto, The Responsibility Revolution delivers a truckload of examples for growing a company that benefits society as well as shareholders. I only wish we had The Responsibility Revolution’s real-world lessons when we launched Ben & Jerry’s."—Ben Cohen, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s
"Jeffrey Hollender is a true master of the arts in unifying business with ecology. A rarity indeed, he is one who practices what he teaches."—Horst M. Rechelbacher, founder, Intelligent Nutrients
"My hat is off to Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen for their daring new book, The Responsibility Revolution. Drawing on their personal experiences in building the highly successful company, Seventh Generation, and on a wealth of other material, they show with force and eloquence what’s required for corporations to transcend the failed promise of ‘corporate social responsibility’ and give real leadership in building a new economy where people and planet flourish. No more hype and platitudes, The Responsibility Revolution is the real item—a Baedeker for businesses that want to be part of a future that works."—James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridges at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing From Crisis to Sustainability
"The Responsibility Revolution is a welcome, hopeful, and timely road map for truly sustainable 21st-century commerce in which people and the planet actually count, and profits are the means but not the ends. Cynics beware—their optimistic analysis derives from real evidence that we may in fact be getting commerce right. Their guidance is visionary and their vision gives great guidance. This is a must-read 21st-century primer for investors, entrepreneurs, consumers, and policy-makers alike."—Gary Hirschberg, president and CE-Yo, Stonyfield Farm, Inc.
"Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen have collaborated to produce a remarkably detailed road map for businesses that are searching sincerely for the path to good reputation, high purpose, and deep respect. Read this book for a new clarity about the power of all three qualities, and the path to authentic realization thereof."—Ray C. Anderson, founder and chairman, Interface, Inc.
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In The Responsibility Revolution, Hollender and Breen explore the ways in which the theories of corporate responsibility and sustainability can, and have been, put into practice to build businesses that aren't just profit-driven, but actually contribute to the common good. They acknowledge that the majority of companies are not willing to change their behavior, but will end up doing so anyway if they wish to survive in a world of empowered consumers and social media driven accountability.
Though short, this book was a tough read for me, mainly because the intended audience is too broad. It appears to be targeted toward consumers, responsibility revolutionaries and their would-be counterparts, the leaders of existing businesses, and entrepreneurs looking to start a business. In trying to cover all these bases, the book is a bit scattered. It lacks cohesion in my opinion.
However, it is still a worthwhile read. It shows the evolution of corporate responsibility in these past 40 years, and gives hope that corporations might actually accept responsibility for the planet-wide costs of doing business, and actively work at remediation, investing themselves in sustaining the planet rather than profiteering from it. After reading this book I have some small hopes that corporations might recognize that they, too, are impacted by the Tragedy of the Commons situations, and as such they are citizens of the world just like you and me.
While some of the examples are well documented (Stonyfield, Walmart/Organic Valley), others are not often cited in the context of environmental initiatives (Marsh and Spencer, IBM, Novo Nordisk, etc.). Overall, these case studies in itself are well worth the read. One wishes that an individual (at the consumer level) could have benefited more directly than gaining a broad awareness of the emerging version of capitalism centered on corporate responsibility (primarily, centered on socio-environmental causes). A good read.
In this volume, Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen provide a "manifesto" in which they explain how almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) can achieve and then sustain profitability while thriving in harmony with its environment, how it can create a workplace within which people love what they do and do what they love, and how organizations can transform themselves by changing their priorities, the way they operate, how they compete, and how they interact with the world.
They are clearly in full agreement with Simon Sinek who, in Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, observes, "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it...A WHY is just a belief. That's all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions - everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture, and whom you hire...You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived...What companies say and do matters. A lot. It is at the WHAT level that a cause is brought to life. It is at this level that a company speaks to the world and it is then that we can learn what the company believes." Obviously, without the right WHY, even great leaders cannot inspire everyone in the given organization to take action. Only with the right WHY can an organization develop great leadership at all levels and in all areas of its operation.
In Sinek's book and in this one, one of the key components of organizational and individual integrity is a commitment to assuming and then sustaining a sense of responsibility insofar as obligations are concerned. For an organization, the stakeholders include employees and customers, of course, but also everyone else associated with the given enterprise as well as the community (or communities) in which it is involved. On Fortune's annual list of most admired companies, the institutional responsibility of each of them is determined by the values and behavior of each of its people.
Hollender and Breen carefully organize their material within seven chapters. Throughout their lively narrative, they real-world examples of important business principles such as these: Producing results (i.e. products, service, citizenship) that really matter, Maximizing human potential in each of those involved, Being transparent (i.e. clarity of purpose and operations), Being authentic (i.e. values and behavior are interdependent), Living the "mission" every moment in every situation, Creating and sustaining a "culture of collaboration" both internally and externally, and On-going corporate consciousness (enterprise-wide) of the aforementioned WHY (i.e. personal accountability to core beliefs and non-negotiable values).
Hollender and Breen make a convincing argument "that when companies shift their value proposition from selling desirable products to solving difficult social and environmental problems, whole new opportunities arise; that when they frame their conventional notions about what it means to act responsibly, they move from thinking incrementally about doing less harm to thinking expansively about leaving things better than they found them."
The challenge and the opportunity involve than replenishing a person or a company or even an industry; rather, they require developing a mindset and mobilizing the resources needed to replenish human society and its environment. The transformation must have the right WHY. Only then can the right WHATs and HOWs be determined. Credit Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen with a brilliant achievement as they share what they think and (yes) feel about the right WHY.