The first part deals with the story of a young CEO named Deena who fights various business challenges (mainly environmental) faced by a top ranking multinational company. This part tries to summarize the tale of a corporation’s profit and growth. Deena realizes that her company is impacting the society negatively by leaving environmental footprints through excessive wastes and greenhouse gas emission.
Once Deena understands that sustainability can be a key to both competitive advantage and continuous growth of an organization, she then starts to address the environmental challenges more efficiently and profitably. This segment of the book is a management fable which brings sustainable value to life beyond just the “theory of green” literature.
The story tries to draw a composite picture of a highly paid fortune 500 corporate woman’s personal and professional life. This tells a tale of Deena’s realization of sustainable values within the core of a business in a very dramatic way. Although the dramatization of the play is not very natural, especially when Deena meets this unknown stranger in the Yellowstone Park, Wyoming and becomes enlightened within hours, it has succeeded to get the message across.
The three professional phases in the life of Deena namely “Life at the top”, “Turning point” and “Rebirth of the sustainable company” has been explained in a very simple and precise way. The first phase deals with the ignorance of the company towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Initially, the company thinks that the social problems are for governments and not for corporations to solve. At this phase, the company focuses on lobbying government to slowdown the growth of environmental regulations rather than moving beyond mere compliance.
The turning point for Deena as well as the corporate occurs when it starts facing financial losses in the form of labor compensation and waste management, pollution control and product toxicity issues. Here, the readers may find that the book is not quite able to reveal the details of the products and the extremes of the worker’s compensation issues, but that is okay.
In the midst of all these, Deena happens to visit Yellowstone Park with her family. The drama unfolds with her encounter with an unknown billionaire business executive who is quite successful in handling his company’s social and environmental challenges. After the meeting, Deena becomes convinced as well as enlightened that environmental sustainability is the answer and also an ultimate form of competitive advantage in today’s world. Although, the examples provided in the book covers very limited range of products, readers have to understand that every business is different and so are its competitive advantages.
While explaining about the rebirth of a sustainable company, the book uses two metaphors namely, “Red Ocean” where companies are fighting with the environmental regulations and compliance issues in a mature market, and “Blue Ocean” where companies are able to explore and implement new & creative competitive advantage strategies with value added sustainable practices.
Even though the book paints a simplistic green picture of the “Blue Ocean”, it somehow fails to explain the step by step struggle of Deena’s company. The book provides a quick strategic implementation of sustainable values into the core of the organization, thereby a very swift transition towards the “Blue Ocean”. Although the book provides with strategic management principles, it is hard to believe the quick transformation from “Red Ocean” to “Blue Ocean”. In between, there must be “Grey Ocean” where most of today’s companies are struggling, not only with the regulatory compliance issues but also with the newly introduced strategic implementation process of sustainable values. Nevertheless, Part III of the book is able to fill that gap to a large extent. (To be continued….)