Competing on sustainability
The American designer Mark Dziersk has a short piece in the US business magazine Fast Company in which he looks at how sustainability is used as a source of competitive advantage. He argues that we’re past the point where people can continue to claim that customers won’t pay more for sustainability – but that sustainability has to be designed into the product or service (well, he is a designer).
He makes three main points in the piece:
- That when traditional companies consider the benefits of sustainability they think of the green dimension as being the primary dimension. Instead, the sustainable perspective should be included in the offer – but the whole offer needs to be distinctive.
- Green stories can be fantastically effective in terms of building narratives – but fake green stories can be fatal. “Faking it means you will be outed on the Internet by people who believe being green requires full commitment. They will find you out and destroy you.”
- In the more complex world of sustainable development, design needs to play a central role in connecting different parts of the business: “to ensure that issues of sustainability, recylability, reusability, re-purpose, secondary use, and constant loop lifecycles are as equally considered in developing products as price, distribution and manufacturing costs.” I see in this a suggestion that some of the traditional assumptions about the composition of the senior management teams of companies need shaking up.
He also points out – with reference to work done by the UK’s Design Council – that it is easier than ever to demonstrate, measurably, that good design is his good business. It’s no longer a case of pointing vaguely in the general direction of Apple.
Thanks to Core 77.