You may have seen the new General Electric slightly-too-cute
‘Ecomagination’ ads (elephant impersonating Gene Kelly’s great
eponymous Singin’
in the Rain
dance number). It turns out there’s a real story
behond the story.

Friend & colleague Joel Makower (who had a
hand in the GE strategy)
some of that story
at WorldChanging
this weekend. After describing the initiative — which includes
‘doubling its… annual revenues from ecomagination products and
services to at least $20 billion by 2010’ — Joel

people can disagree on this, but it‰s hard
to argue with Immelt’s willingness to put his company out front of the
debate in a very visible way. GE’s goal is not to promote one or two
energy technologies above the others, but to push them all
aggressively. Washington could learn a lot from that

seems to be doing several other things right in making ecomagination
central to its strategy. In many ways, it represents a textbook
approach to what a major corporate sustainability effort can look like.
Here are six specific reasons I believe GE is headed in the right

  1. It’s being viewed as a business opportunity….

  2. It’s got
    solid top-level commitment….

  3. It’s both
    aspirational and specific….

  4. They’ve
    done their

  5. It’s being integrated with the brand.

  6. They’re in
    it for the long haul….

Time will tell, of course, how
effective this strategy
will be in helping GE gain business — and shareholder — value. If it
works, it may provide a model for how a company can strike out as an
environmental leader in today‰s cynical marketplace.

There’ll be controversy, of course, including over GE’s still unsettled
PCB contmination legacy. But this is a Big Deal, if it’s real. I
suspect it is — those ‘six reasons’ are a good market — and the proof
will be in the results. Yes, it’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a
helluva big drop — and bottom line success at GE will have a more
powerful ripple effect on other companies than a tanker truck of

PS: Speaking of the risks, opportunities and business logic of all
this, you can now listen
my recent speech
on Risk,
Fiduciary Responsibility and the Laws of Nature
in streaming

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