WHY INTEGRA(C)TION IS NOT AN OPTION

afa

In the first post of my blog, I want to give you the feeling of why I started the journey which led me to Integra(c)tion. Why I believe the current paradigma in business has significant limits. Why we should be working towards a better one.

Over the last years, an increasing number of global issues are getting more common, prominent and urgent to deal with. Problems as climate change and water scarcity are now seriously impacting the world and its populations.  The gale of creative destruction, as described by Schumpeter in the 50’s is getting stronger and stronger. But these days the gale of creative destruction is caused as well by natural (or human-caused?) reasons. In response to these trends, governments and companies are struggling more and more in their effort to navigate the complex environment.

Unprecedented issues are requiring unprecedented knowledge and skills. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them, said Einstein. In the corporate world, the creation of the sustainability function has represented the tool used to correct this existing misalignment between the financial targets and the need to preserve the environmental and social capitals. New skills and competencies which are allowing to focus not just on the financial performance, but also on the social and environmental with a focus on the long-term.

Nevertheless, the way this approach is implemented sounds puzzling from an external perspective. What is the point of naming part of the sourcing function Sustainable Sourcing? Does it imply that the rest of the Sourcing department declares itself not to be sustainable? The same is valid for every corporate function or activity that is including “sustainable” in it. Indeed, many questions marks to dissolve.

What if in the past we already had the ability to manage the environmental and social capitals but somehow forgot about it? Let’s consider some examples related to typical sustainability concepts. Circular Economy is a regeneration system in which waste does not exist, as it is used as new input for production. But the very self-concept of waste is an invention of the last centuries. “Everything but the oink”, as the old saying goes.  Every part of the pork is used, nothing is eliminated as waste.

“We cannot just add sustainable development to our current list of things to do but must learn to integrate the concepts into everything that we do.” (The Dorset Education for Sustainability Network)

Sustainability requires the ability to perform an activity while maintaining, if not increasing, the financial, social and environmental capitals over time. Crop rotation is the practice of growing diverse types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons to help maintain soil fertility and avoid erosion. It has been practised since 6000 BC. Thus, around 8000 years before the term sustainability had been coined, people already knew and applied sustainability principles. Such knowledge was integrated into their knowledge of the work, yet they would not call themselves sustainable farmers. They simply wanted to ensure that their sons and daughters could make a living from the same land.

Similar examples can be found in different disciplines and activities. Despite this, we are still unable to manage our resources efficiently. Why have we lost the connection with something we have known for millenniums? Why are we still unable to consider the social and environmental impacts of our actions, even when we are aware we are not doing things correctly? What are the actions that we can take to overcome these limits?

Welcome to my blog and thanks for sharing the journey with me with the objective of trying to reply to these questions.

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