Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Business: Who's Agenda, and Why?

We read daily about the many organizations that rush to establish their green credentials-- that is, to prove the minimal environmental impact of their products and operations. Some of those many companies actually understand that energy use and waste are key components of green performance. Accordingly, these companies are proactively trying to manage their energy use to save money, demonstrate their "greenness," or both.

As practical matter, green is as green does.

For better or worse, "green" is an amorphous, maleable concept that can be readily adapted to a number of very different agendas. There is an altruistic dimension, to be sure, but there are also extremely practical consequences-- such as improved cost performance and risk abatement as the result of waste reduction. The corporate adoption of green principles does not happen unless it contributes to someone's agenda. But here's where it gets interesting... corporations don't have agendas, people do. The "green" vision pursued by any corporation is highly personalized per an individual champion's interpretation of what "green" is and what it provides to some larger agenda. The agenda of a VP of marketing can be very different from that of an operations, finance, or investor relations leader-- and therefore the "look and feel" of a green initiative can be equally varied.

Corporations are usually careful in spin-doctoring their outward-facing communications. Any survey of corporate "green" aspirations must weed answers that merely "greenwash" from those that reveal the true agendas that are driving efforts.



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