Monday, January 11, 2010

Green book of the week - Green Recovery by Andrew Winston

Today we review a green book that not only is a good fit to this tough economic period, but is also a great resource to help you survive the recession by implementing the right green strategies.

Our book today is:

Green Recovery: Get Lean, Get Smart, and Emerge from the Downturn on Top

Author: Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston , founder of Winston Eco-Strategies, is the co-author of Green to Gold, the best-selling guide to what works - and what doesn't - when companies go green. He is a globally recognized expert on green business, and has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Time, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The New York Times, and CNBC. Andrew is dedicated to helping companies both large and small use environmental strategy to grow, create enduring value, and build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. His clients have included Bank of America, HP, and IKEA.

Andrew bases his work on significant in-company business experience. His earlier career included advising companies on corporate strategy while at Boston Consulting Group and management positions in strategy and marketing at Time Warner and MTV. After these more traditional roles, Andrew pursued his passion to explore the overlap between business and environment. He served as the Director of the Corporate Environmental Strategy Project at Yale's renowned School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Andrew received his BA in Economics from Princeton, an MBA from Columbia, and a Masters of Environmental Management from Yale. He lives in Riverside, CT with his wife Christine and two young sons.

Publisher: Harvard Business Press

Published on:
August 2009

What this book is about?
(from the author's website)
How much money – and how many jobs – could your business save if you reduced energy use and waste by 25%? How would your business be impacted if oil reached $300 per barrel?

These might seem like odd questions to ask in the midst of a global recession–but they're not. Companies that shelve their green strategies until the economy improves will miss a huge opportunity to make their businesses stronger and more profitable.

Green Recovery argues that environmental challenges and increasing "green" awareness have not dissipated in the wake of the financial crisis. Business leaders must face both problems simultaneously. Fortunately, some of the same strategies that address environmental issues can help companies survive today's economic conditions and prosper when the good times return.

Going green is essentially about doing more with less. Viewed through this lens, green initiatives transform from costly luxuries to powerful recession-fighting, profit-making tools. This book shows how leaders — including Boeing, Disney, DuPont, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, and Wal-Mart — are ramping up efficiency, innovation, and employee motivation to save money quickly and preserve capital that can be reinvested for future growth.

Green Recovery offers a concise, engaging road map for using green initiatives to:

  • Get lean: generate immediate bottom-line savings by reducing energy use and waste
  • Get smart: use value-chain data to cut costs, reduce risks, and focus innovation efforts
  • Get creative: pose heretical questions that force you to find solutions to tomorrow's challenges today
  • Get engaged: give employees ownership of environmental goals and the tools to act on them

Green Recovery will help you unleash the power of green thinking to survive today's turmoil and chart a winning path to the future.

What we think about it?

This book is definitely the right book in the right time. Even though the economy seems to be doing a little bit better, many companies are still struggling to survive and continue their operations. I'm sure many of them didn't think "green" is the answer to their problems, but as the book is showing, it can definitely become their road to survival.

Winston is presenting very persuasive arguments and examples in his book for implementing green strategies as a way to survive today's economic conditions. The examples are especially important, because when you read that "following the green path, especially in hard times, can lead your company to higher profits and sustainable advantages", you want some proof. Winston, to his credit, gives you all the examples you want. And good ones too!

Winston knows to talk in the language of the targeted audience (aka business people) and hence is going straight to the bottom line - green don't look at green as extra cost, but as an investment with ROI and payback of usually not more than two years. He also explains how green strategies are always creating a win-win model, making your business not only greener, but also stronger and more competitive.

So if it's so simple, why haven't we seen all the CEOs of companies in trouble doing everything they can to go green? Winston doesn't escape this question and explains that there are two main reasons for that: "first, energy efficiency just hasn't seemed sexy..the second reason is the classic problem of the urgent versus the important. Most capital expenditures go to fix things that are broken. We can't help but focus on what's leaking."

Energy efficiency might not look sexier after reading this book, but you might see the definition of "broken" differently and get a better understanding of how "green" can fix it. As you read this book, you understand that the recession might be a nightmare, but it can also be an opportunity for a prosperous and more sustainable future.

Bottom line: Worth reading even if your company is doing pretty well now!

Disclosure: We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Want to learn more about the book? Check out this interview with the author:

If you're looking for other interesting green-themed books, you are invited to check out our green books page on Eco-Libris website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!