The Triple Bottom, Annotated Bibliography

Hiroko Yoshimura, Akiko Toya, and Masanobu Okada

The Triple Bottom Line by Andrew W. Savitz with Karl Weber

Chapter 9 (Masa): Andrew and Karl, the authors of the book, The Triple Bottom Line, state that sustainability in business entails both strengths and weaknesses. Strengths are something to build on – “skill sets, cultural advantages, and stakeholder connections that people can make their operation more profitable” (pg 145). Weaknesses are dangers that people must identify and remedy – “missing skills, resource depletions, and stakeholder relationship whose implications needed to be addressed before they cause real damage” (145). If people want to fix these weaknesses and develop strengths of sustainability, they should seek the sweet spot. Sweet spot is “the potential overlap between the key strategic drivers and the environmental, social, and economic needs of society” (151). Authors suggest that people should think about business’s sweet spot in terms of minimization and optimization. Minimization is aimed at reducing ecological damage, employee accidents, and decreasing harm to the community. On the other hand, optimization is aimed at producing positive benefits in the three areas of environmental, social, and economic impact. The first step is minimization and then, optimization. In short, minimization and new mind-set are leading naturally toward optimization, both I terms of promising new products and in more efficient processes. In conclusion, authors point out that in order to accomplish the ideal concept of sustainability, each company must realize that “well-being of the community is part of the company’s responsibility” (150).

Chapter 10 (Hiroko): Andrew W. Savits further goes on to talk about how a company starts its own sustainable business. The most important thing that the author says in the beginning is to create goals. First, one needs to start from smaller goals. Only after achieving those goals, the company will be acknowledged and should move on to creating bigger goals. Moreover, these goals should focus around on consumers’ needs and working with suppliers. Examples of these are Volvo introducing airbags for the customers’ safety and Nike requesting Delta to become more fuel efficient in exchange for exclusively using its airline. As these examples suggest, the author states that the company needs to consider how sustainability could be built into its existing business goals.

To create such a successful sustainability, the author states that there is a need for “virtual sustainability department” where employees from various departments can share their ideas, insights, and tools related to sustainability. The company also should seek outside source such as NGOs, business partners, and suppliers.

The author further talks about using the indicators to measure the progress is also a key in succeeding the sustainable business. An example of this can be an energy company holding safety lessons before doing dangerous jobs and looking at the relations of the number of lessons and the number of accidents.

By following the method described above, the author states that even starting from just one individual or a department would lead to a bigger and successful sustainability programs. “…many of the most successful corporate programs began by leveraging the efforts of one department or individual within the company. But most companies eventually look to expand those efforts because of the enormous power of those ideas at the strategic level. (p. 170)”

Epilogue (Akiko): Mainly, it talks about the future of sustainability. Now, in mass-consumption society, companies produce product, material things as much as they can. Also, consumers buy product and easily throw it away and buy new one. Our society is throwaway society. So, in this reading, author suggests new ideas, which help moving from a throwaway society to a recycling-style economy.The first idea is the concept of minimization which called lean thinking. Lean thinking came from realization that consumers don’t want the physical materials used in manufacturing, shipping, and using many products. The second idea is that transforming the goods they sell into services. For example, if this idea is applied to business model, the power tool company should sell holes rather than selling electronic drills. As a result, company can provide the same value at less cost; also it could be benefit to environment. It sounds vague but it basically says that people should minimize selling material things in order to avoid wasting. Through introducing these ideas, this reading emphasizes that companies can seek sustainability which without diminishing financial profit. This situation could be win-win society our group explained yesterday.

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