Another book on green business? You may be tempted to wonder if we need another one. After all, there are already numerous classics on the subject (The Ecology of Commerce, Natural Capitalism, Mid-Course Correction), as well as more recent books that bring the subject of sustainable business into the 21st century (Green to Gold, Strategies for the Green Economy). What can Gil Friend, founder and CEO of consulting firm Natural Logic, add to the subject with his new book The Truth About Green Business? (Note: that paragraph’s brimming to the gills with affiliate links…)
The short answer, of course, is “a lot”: Gil’s spent nearly 40 years in the sustainable business field, so he’s able to address questions ranging from the general (“What’s the business case for green?”) to the very specific (“What elements should an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program include?) with deep knowledge of green business ideas, as well as plenty of real-life examples.
What makes the The Truth about Green Business really stand out, though, isn’t necessarily the quality of information, but the format of the book itself. Most of the other books mentioned above delve deeply into their topics, and require a sustained reading effort (both of which are good things, of course). Friend’s created something quite different: in the Introduction, he describes the book as “designed to help you tackle these grand ideas in simple, practical, profitable, bite-sized chunks” (specifically, 52 “truths”).
You might be tempted to call this a reference book, but that doesn’t exactly work, as it doesn’t just impart information; it also provides questions, checklists, and resources designed to spur thinking and action. There’s even a bit of a “hypertextual” quality to the book: any one chapter/truth will point you to others necessary to make sure you understand the broad picture. You might describe it as The Ecology of Commerce meets A Whack on the Side of the Head (Yep, more affiliate links…).
Furthermore, this is a book that executives and managers can use on an “as-needed” basis: my own straight-through reading should be the exception rather than the rule. Need to get a sense of the argument for green building? Check out Truths 33-36. What about IT? Truths 37-39. Want to make a broader case for greening your company? Truths 1-5 (general green business) and 6-8 (green strategy) should fit the bill.
Now, the chosen format means some things get left out: there are no extensive case studies, for instance. The book is replete with short, on-target examples, though, from many forward-think companies. Furthermore, fairly extensive appendices listing references and resources provide ample direction for a reader that wants to delve deeper into a specific topic.
The Truth about Green Business is one of those books that any forward-thinking manager will want to have readily available. It won’t provide all the answers — it isn’t designed to do that. Rather, it does what a good consultant should do: challenges prevailing assumptions with relevant facts and questions, and then provides a framework for the reader to apply his/her own skills and talents to the problem or issue at hand.
It turns out we do need another good green business book… one that draws on the best thinking on the subject, and even points readers to some of the other works mentioned above. For busy managers, The Truth about Green Business provides a great place to start hunting for the knowledge and ideas that can lead to innovation.
More information available at Natural Logic…