“A business is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin.
Methods have to change.
Focus has to change.
Values have to change.
The sum total of those changes is transformation.”
So said Andy Grove, ex-President and CEO of Intel. Grove transformed Intel from a manufacturer of memory chips into one of the world’s dominant producers of microprocessors. During his time as CEO, Grove oversaw a 4,500% increase in Intel’s market capitalization from $4 billion to $197 billion, making it, at the time, the world’s most valuable company. (Source: Wikipedia).
Mr Grove undoubtedly knows a thing or two about running a successful business but his ideas are also common sense. One of his key philosophies is that “inertia is the enemy of good business management”. In other words we too often settle into established patterns of behaviour, relying on past successes and what we think led to those successes, without objectively looking at ourselves and our business in the changing context of the world around us (our competitors, our customers, the environment etc.)
In terms of our environmental impact, we all recognise the need to minimise the negative impacts (even it’s only a very quiet voice somewhere deep inside) but that doesn’t mean we are ready and equipped to make the changes required. You will no doubt hear about carbon reduction in the media, from Government, from business advisors, from your staff and customers. You will see your energy and transport costs creeping up but you will also know that you can choose to do nothing for a few more years (even if it will cost you a little bit more each year). But, at some stage, we will all have to change the way we do things. We won’t all be able to travel 35-40 miles to work by car. We won’t be able to fly to meetings all over the world. We won’t be in a position to heat and power our businesses using fossil fuels.
We will have to transform our methods, our focus and our values to transform our businesses into “organisms” equipped to thrive in a low carbon future.
If you disagree with this, then perhaps the Low Carbon Alliance isn’t for you. But if you do agree, and share a desire for change without necessarily knowing all the answers about how to achieve it, then we want to help you with the transition. If you can commit to first of all calculate and then reduce your carbon footprint by 10% each year for the next 5 years then you can be confident you are aligned with internationally recognised timescales for weaning ourselves off oil, gas and coal in order to keep CO2 in the atmosphere below 400 parts per million and avoiding the kind of climate change that will impact on millions of people.
Your business will benefit by becoming more resilient to the changes but, more importantly, local and wider society will benefit from your business decisions. After all, businesses are an essential part of a properly functioning society. At the same time, businesses have to take responsibility for the fact that, in the UK, they produce over 60% of direct emissions, many of which are avoidable.