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It sometimes seems that books flow into my bedside reading stack faster than they leave it. It’s a good problem too have; there are so many good books on the subjects that concern us all. Here are a few of my current favorites – some that I’ve read, some that I’m reading, all of which are worth your attention.
Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World’s Greatest Business Case for Compassion.
Pavithra K. Mehta & Suchitra Shenoy.
Aravind sprang from a surgeon’s vision of ending curable blindness – without regard to people’s ability to pay and without compromising their dignity. It’s become the largest provider of eye care on the planet, with ten times the productivity of US eye surgeons, and patient results superior to British National Health Service. But this is not just a book full of heart; it’s also an inspiring management case study of how to deliver the goods.
The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.
Paul Gilding.
If Infinite Vision is a great inspiration, The Great Disruption is quite a downer. Gilding, businessman and former head of GreenPeace International, is no optimist. He sees global crisis, both ecologic and economic, as unavoidable – but is ultimately hopeful for the human capacity for innovation and cooperation… once we’ve exhausted all other options.
Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to the Future Now.
Margaret Wheatley & Deborah Frieze.
Wheatley and Frieze find that capacity for innovation and cooperation at work today in local communities around the planet, and take the reader on a “learning journey” (evoking those that their Berkana Institute conducts) that brings these communities and their work together alive.
Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.
Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute.
Lovins and his colleagues at RMI present both a vision and a roadmap for getting the US off oil, coal and nuclear by 2050, at a profit, without a dime of government money, and with a Net Present Value of $5 trillion. I haven’t checked the math, but I have seen the logic of RMI’s time tested guiding principles – systems thinking; market oriented Solutions; end-use/least-cost approach; corporate transformation – deliver the goods again and again.
The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success.
Carol Sanford.
While Lovins and his team have been masters of integrative design in technological systems, Sanford has long been one of the leaders in integrative approaches to corporate strategy and transformation. As she observes, “The biggest challenge for a company that aspires to be a responsibility business is to stop working on parts and start recognizing and working on whole systems.”
Sustainability by Design: A Subversive Strategy fot Transforming Our Consumer Culture.
John C. Ehrenfeld
Ehrenfeld, ex of MIT and currently head of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, argues that we’re doing “sustainability” all wrong – using band-aids like ecoefficiency to reduce “unsustainability” – but not really building true sustainability – or, as Ehrenfeld prefers to put it, “the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever.”