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make it easier to do business with the rest of Europe. There is now widespread relief – and more than a little schadenfreude – that the UK is outside. The UK may not be in the currency but the future of the euro zone matters very much to UK business.

Peter McManners I

f we think back to the launch of the euro, there were calls that Britain should join to

“It is likely that one or more members will explore the possibil- ity of exit to regain greater finan- cial control. Weaker countries may have the decision forced upon them...stronger countries will con- sider exit for selfish political and economic reasons. Implementing the extraction of one country from the euro would be a chal- lenge for both the country and the European Central Bank, but once one country had acted as trailblazer, others might follow.” This might be from any newspaper editorial over recent months. In fact it is an extract from my book, Green Outcomes in the Real World. My commen- tary was not a response to the euro crisis, but a cool analysis of the transition to a more sustain- able society. Stewart

Wallis, executive

director of the New Economics Foundation, summed up the heart of my argument in his reaction to the book: “Committed free- traders will be uncomfortable with McManners’ conclusions, but they should read this book. The essence of his proposal is that by encouraging a greater diversity of economic models and allowing more room for nations individu- ally, and in self-selecting groups, to find their own paths to sustain- ability, competition will encour- age creativity, innovation and a more resilient global economy.” David Cameron’s advisers have also been looking at the deeper ramifications of sustainability.

The management of a sustainable world society needs clear objectives

develop appropriate measures... to bring ecosystem integrity on to the balance sheet.”.

What does all this mean for business? Some people see the marketing possibilities

of sus-

Sustainable crystal ball: business strategists can see the future clearly

The Government’s instruction to the Office for National Statistics to devise a measure of quality of life is another example of sustain- ability shifting from the obvi- ous problems to the challenge of bringing sustainability to the heart of government.

According to my analysis in Green Outcomes, “the manage- ment of a sustainable world soci- ety needs clear objectives. The old measures of development based on pure economic measures, such as GDP, are obsolescent. As the principle of sustainability embeds into world society, finance will drop down from being the prime objective of policy to a facilitat- ing function. It will take time to

tainability. For others it is all about protecting and enhancing the reputation of the business. Yet, for others it is an operational issue to comply with regulations. But more than anything else it is a strategic issue. Business should move with the sustainable policy coming out of government and do more than simply respond to the requirements of regulations. Deep strategic insight goes fur- ther still. It requires understand- ing of the core thinking under- lying sustainability. It becomes possible to anticipate what the government will do next, before the Government knows it. It also opens up the possibility of spot- ting opportunities, where


Government could and should take action. In this way potential business plans can be identified based on deep analysis of where society is heading. We can all be passionate about the green agenda for a variety of reasons. In business the passion might be about the commercial opportunities to make money. The motive matters less than the

action that ensues. Society will become sustainable; it could hap- pen quickly or slowly; but it will happen. We can remain blind to problems until they become so severe that we must react, but people are not stupid to the extent of remaining ignorant indefinitely. Sustainability is often seen as observing the world now and looking for ways to make it more sustainable. I prefer to understand how the concepts of sustainability will shape a new world society. This is the world as it should be; I then look for the opportunities to make the transition. This allows you to take off the blindfold of how society operates now and see the future clearly. It is the nearest that business strategists can get to a crystal ball. It relies only on the belief that one day world society will be sustainable.

Peter McManners is a consultant, teaches at Henley Business School and is author of the book Green Outcomes in the Real World: Global Forces, Local Circumstances, and Sustainable Solutions. SB readers can order copies at a 30% discount using code G1DRP30 (valid until 28 Janu- ary) at > isbn/ 9780566091797

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