Andrea Learned

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Question Assumptions. Be The Sustainability Vanguard.

“The most impressive thing about them as scholars,” says David Easley, an economist at Cornell University, “is that in recent years they have questioned the assumptions of the models they helped to create, and they have been at the vanguard of the efforts to go beyond them.”

The above quote from Jeff Sommer’s New York Times piece on Nobel laureate economists Christopher A. Sims and Thomas J. Sargent holds universal wisdom.  What if today’s business leaders were willing and became practiced at questioning the assumptions of the models they themselves helped create?

Imagine how much sooner the benefits of  sustainability might have emerged – in terms of operational efficiencies, employee engagement and community relations (to name three) –  if businesses had been thinking the way Sargent and Sims do.  Instead, our economy – up until now – has mainly rewarded people and corporations for doing things generally in line with the way they have always been done, and then… resting on their laurels.  As the sustainable business movement gains momentum, we can clearly see that many an opportunity has been missed, as so many rested.

You may have noticed the continuing theme in what I’ve written in this blog, and for SustainableBusinessForum, HuffingtonPost and The Solutions Journal over the past year or so.  I believe that in order to question assumptions and become the sustainability vanguard, businesses and their big thinkers must get out of line, and gain experience getting “all relational” instead.

Only when we can acknowledge/accept that we may not have seen or addressed the whole picture initially, will we be able to notice how various business systems  relate to, around and through one another.  This is when we will get o the linear + relational solutions, with more emphasis on co-creation and collaborative partnerships being but one example.

This way of considering sustainable business inspires and drives my research and writing explorations.  I have truly appreciated your readership and sharing (via blog post comments, Twitter and Google+) this past year, and look forward to the continuing linear + relational journey, together, in 2012.