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  • Writer's pictureStuart Williams

"Ready, Fire, Aim" - Way Too Much Collateral Damage to Be A Strategy for Achieving Positive Change

As the effects of climate change become more and more evident, so the pressure to move away from hydrocarbons increases. Needles to say, as with any heated debate there are polar opposites ranging from those who deny the existence of climate change, to those who believe we must stop using all kinds of hydro carbons tomorrow. It is my belief that both extremes fall into the category of “ready, fire, aim”, and hence, an embracement of either manifesto would end up with a lot of collateral damage.

In a recent article I wrote “Stranded Assets – Beyond Hydro Carbons” I discussed the reality that stranded assets go way beyond in-ground proven reserves of hydrocarbons. In this article, I will discuss why using a “Ready, Aim Fire” or “Whole Systems Approach”, is an imperative if we are to minimize the negative effects that can accompany systemic change.

A Whole Systems Approach integrates the work of environmental conservationists, conforming/compliant investors, philanthropists, social change architects, and leaders purposed to be better stewards of the human, environmental, and capital assets they use to run their private or public ecosystems. Even though each individual sector can have meaningful positive impacts when acting in isolation from the others, when they combine and integrate their efforts, the growth in positive impact is exponential.

Ronald Bailey once said “the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones”, however, the standard and way of life of entire communities dependent upon stones for the velocity of capital within their ecosystem would end if the residents were not prepared to do something else. For more recent examples of this we need look no further back than the end of the steel era in Bethlehem, P.A. or the demise of the coal industry in Wales. In short, we have the knowledge, technology and capital to plan for systemic change and therefore we have an obligation to start working on this immediately using a Whole Systems Approach.

During a current project we were asked to provide a strategy for an entire country to become garbage-neutral using waste to energy solutions. After centuries of piling up garbage in landfills and unfortunately having citizens living both on and within (having tunneled in to make “homes”), the landfills, humanitarian and environmental pressures were mounting to effect change.

The Ready, Fire, Aim approach was to start the clean up immediately, however we were able to convince the decision makers otherwise and hence design the following program:

1. Award the RFP to a waste to energy company that will:

- Hire and train local employees

- Build housing, a school and a clinic for its employees

We found a world-class company prepared to make a profit while making a difference:

- Start to educate and train the citizens living on and in the landfills to work in waste to energy jobs and businesses associated with a developing local living economy.

- Provide the citizens living on and in the landfills with the knowledge and contacts they will need to integrate into a more main stream society and lifestyle.

2. Find conforming/compliant investors to fund the development of small, local businesses.

3. Initiate a strategy for the removal of the garbage that includes environmental clean up and best use redesign of the land once the extent of toxicity has been identified and understood.

4. Introduce globally accepted environmental initiatives such as REDD and NAMAS.

Once points 1 through 4 have been done, then start removing the garbage.

The world is at the beginning of what Andy Grove (ex-Chair of Intel) described as a "strategic inflection point" in relation to how its public and private ecosystems contribute to the future of humanity and the planet. It appears that numerous Fortune 1000 corporations, entire countries, multiple endowments and foundations, the majority of private family offices, and over 48,000,000 Millennials also agree:

  • A recent decision by a Fortune 1000 corporation to procure all of their products and services from a fully sustainable supply chain is resulting in 4,000 global corporations and SME's having to adopt a compliant stewardship program.

  • We are currently implementing and managing a Whole Systems Approach to help emerging market countries build their emerging economies on the principles of People, Planet, Prosperity.

  • Since 2009, over $5.8 Trillion in private capital has shifted into compliant or conforming investments.

  • Endowments and foundations are rapidly divesting from non-compliant/ conforming investments, e.g., hydrocarbons.

  • We recently signed an agreement to provide 1,300 global private family offices with the opportunity to have a bespoke Whole Systems Approach program designed for their private ecosystem.

  • In the United States alone there are 80,000,000 Millennials (4.4% of the global Millennial population). They are close to inheriting over $30 Trillion, but more importantly, over 60% of them (more than 48,000,000 soon to be leaders, decision makers, consumers, investors and donors) believe that corporate profit and investment returns need to be values aligned.

The world is changing, and in the very near future our leaders, decision makers, etc., will remove the optionality of embracing the People, Planet, Prosperity thesis because it will become mandatory if we desire their patronage. However, this is far from a negative as an enhanced stewardship of the human, environmental and capital assets we use to run the day-to-day operations of our private or public ecosystems can result in:

  • Reductions in operational risks & expenses

  • Acquisition of new clients, customers and other revenue sources

  • The future’s highest and most sustainable corporate profits and/or investment returns

  • Enhanced brand equity and value

  • Improved client loyalty

  • Increases in market share

  • Faster identification of investment risk and potential stranded assets

  • Reductions in carbon footprints

  • Increases in rankings on the “best places to work” lists such as Career Bliss and Glass Door

  • Hiring the finest Millennial team members

  • Increased productivity

  • Decreased team turnover

  • An enhanced positive effect on People and Planet

  • All of the above will help further enhance support of the imperative business, investment, environmental and humanitarian thesis of People and Planet by contributing to the creation of economies and communities where:

  • Regenerative capitalism is embraced because it produces enhanced but equal returns for all stakeholders;

  • The social fabric of societal ecosystems is revived;

  • Humanitarian and environmental inequalities are eradicated; and

  • Imperative environmental ecosystems are regenerated and stewarded to thrive.

Over 20 years ago I co-created the “making a profit while making a difference” initiative and I am yet to hear a negative connotation about that initiative, however, we must avoid the collateral damage of “Ready, Fire, Aim” if we are to truly effect positive change.

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