The Responsible Business
“When most people think of corporate responsibility, they are focusing on a business’s effect on and relationship to stakeholders. A Responsible Business sees stakeholders as full partners and meaningful instruments for the evolution of healthier communities and more successful businesses.”
—from the Introduction
The Responsible Business offers a new and strategic approach to doing business that holistically integrates responsibility into all aspects of an organization, allowing for returns at every level, business and social. This book goes beyond the often well intentioned but limited attempts at sustainability to present a framework that allows organizations to bring responsibility into everything they do and re-imagine success. From innovation, product development, and production processes to business management, strategic planning, and shareholder development, the author shows how being a Responsible Business is a practical skill that can be applied day-to-day at every level of the business.
No longer just the role of a department or the job of CSR professionals, successful responsibility and business efforts start at the business level, are then taken to the corporate level, and are finally applied throughout the organization. The Responsible Business outlines a framework for building a responsibility and consciousness infrastructure that applies a living systems view to the business and inspires all of its stakeholders, including shareholders.
Throughout the book, illustrated by examples from technology to manufacturing, large and small, public and private, Sanford demonstrates how to make responsibility integral to all aspects of a business as an engine for innovation, profitability, and purpose. This way of engaging organizations uses the real potential that capitalism offers- entrepreneurial spirit, individual determination, and creativity that happens every day and everywhere, not just in one function.
The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success (published by Jossey-Bass) has won numerous awards including Best General Book by the International Book Awards, Top Fifteen Business Books by CNBC, CNBC’s Bullish on Books, and was in the Top Five General Business Books by 800CEOREAD, the largest distributor of business books in the world, and it was shortlisted for Best Business Book of the Year, out of 11,000 business books. Her book is required reading at Harvard Business School, Stanford Engineering and Management Science, and MIT Sloan, among others.
Praise for The Responsible Business
“The way of thinking about running a business offered in The Responsible Business is critical for re-imagining the future of business. Rarely a day goes by that I do not call on this way of thinking and looking at the world. It is useful in most walks of life, and in taking on the big business decisions that so many of us face every day.”
– Chad Holliday, Chairman, Bank of America (from 2010), Former Chairman and CEO, E. I. DuPont Corporation
“In a serendipitous twist of events, I discovered and read The Responsible Business last year. To say that it rocked my world is an understatement. Who else these days treats organizations and their stakeholders with such deep caring, wholesome sophistication and such brilliant elegance?? I read a lot of business & organization development books, and I went through the Pepperdine MSOD program, yet I’m convinced that “The Responsible Business” is by far the most important book written on the subject in decades. (I recently posted my review on Amazon.) I’m glad that now when someone asks me to recommend a few management/OD books, I can wholeheartedly say — just read The Responsible Business.
– Max Shkud, 10XShift
“Through Seventh Generation’s work with Carol Sanford we learned the value of systems thinking and how these frameworks made us a more effective business and me a better values-based leader. Carol’s approach also makes it possible for people in our company to be more conscious and work from a commitment to a higher set of values.
– Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder and Chief Inspired Protagonist, of Seventh Generation; Author, The Responsibility Revolution, with Bill Breen
“The Responsible Business challenges popular management wisdom as abstract and fragmented even if well intentioned. Carol Sanford offers us a proven, practical, and systems based approach that integrates five stakeholder groups into a business system working as an integral whole. Essential reading for leaders wanting a system framework for Sustainability and Business Success!
– Otto Scharmer, MIT Sloan School Senior Lecturer, Author, Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges; Co-author of Presence with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers
“I strongly recommend Carol’s book to any (business) leader who wants to learn more about supporting and running a balanced and responsible organization. Her overall framework provides a great roadmap. We have made her framework the basis of our overall strategy and way of planning.”
– Michiel Bakker, Director, Global Food Services, Google, Inc.
“The Responsible Business challenges many assumptions corporate leaders, investment advisors and sustainability experts have long taken for granted and on which many have even built their careers. It provides a road map that can help innovative businesses think about how to be truly transformational
– Sam Ford, Writer at Fast Company and Harvard Business Review; Director at Peppercomm; Co-Author of Spreadable Media
“The powerful concepts in The Responsible Business have changed the process of sustainable development and how communities truly thrive. Indeed, these proven approaches will be the roadmap to truly achieve the deepest level of living communities.
– Bill Reed, Founding member of LEED System, Co-author of The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building
“I am eternally grateful to the author of this book, Carol Sanford, for giving me the skills to not only build a number of profitable businesses, but to do so responsibly for all the stakeholders along the way.”
– Bob Raynsford, Founder and Chairman of Agriwise (among other companies)
“Carol is a very early thought leader, way beyond the pack. She has an exceedingly high level of intelligence for working on very complex subjects, with workable approaches. Whole enterprises change permanently for the better. I know. I have been engaged with the work in this book for decades in several successful entrepreneurial start-ups and as an executive in Fortune 500 companies.”
– Pravin Jain, Serial Entrepreneur, CEO & Founder, Synergen Energy
“Carol gets it. When people work for a company that stands for something special and they feel good about it, they make an inner connection with many things around them, some not readily obvious. This leads to passion which is the juice to run through brick walls.”
– Mike Benzinger, Founder, CEO, Benzinger Winery
“In The Responsible Business, Carol offers a rare exception to all the hype on CSR, providing practical hands-on advice to launch deep systemic change for your entire organization, your external partners, your investors, your community, and the planet that depends on us all. She and this book are gems.”
– Brad Reddersen, President, SIRA Technologies, Inc.
“In this visionary and hugely exciting book Carol Sanford shares the insights gleaned from a lifetime of working with path breaking businesses. She takes us behind the scenes at companies that have transformed how they think about themselves and the world and in the process generated not only sustainable prosperity but levels of meaning and commitment that most firms only dream of. This path has the potential to transform our world.”
– Rebecca Henderson, Harvard Business School, Senator John Heinz, Professor of Environmental Management
“Carol Sanford gives us a new paradigm for going beyond CSR and SRI to a marketplace where business creates both positive impact on society and the environment and value for shareholders. Who doesn’t want that?”
– Andrew Kassoy, Bart Houlahan, and Jay Coen Gilbert, Founders, B Lab
“The Responsible Business advances a most welcome approach that is more encompassing than most work on responsibility, sustainability and climate change. Yet, it is elegantly simple in its execution. It gives hope and means on some of the biggest issues of our time. In many parts of the world natural resources are stretched to their limits. The book argues that ecosystems and communities are not ‘externalities’ but part and parcel of the ‘whole.’ This leads to regeneration and revitalization of industries, communities and ecosystems, building from each unique culture and ecology. It is the NEW corporate responsibility.”
– Mohamed El-Ashry, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation, former CEO & Chairman, Global Environment Facility (GEF)
“As an evolution biologist who sees how all sustainable species, in our business world as much as in our greater biological world, must mature from hostile competition to collaborative community, Carol Sanford’s book is brilliantly vital to our future. Any business adopting and practicing her mantra of Agency, Ableness and Affectiveness will thrive as it contributes to a best possible future for All. Read this book to find out HOW!”
– Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. Evolution Biologist; Futurist; Author, Earth Dance: Living Systems in Evolution
“This is a bold and inspiring book; one of those game-changing books that come around only once in a decade. It will change how I teach organizational behavior and management. I return to different sections repeatedly and gain something new each time.”
– Pam Hinds, Stanford University, Management Science and Engineering, Co-Director, Center for Work, Technology & Organization
“The Responsible Business thinks strategically, comprehensively and inclusively with all stakeholders. Carol Sanford’s book provides executives and investors with the tools and examples to build a better world while seeking positive human impact and profit. She shows how the leaders accomplish this for their firms, shareholders and society.”
– Paul Herman, CEO, HIP Investor Inc.; Registered Investment Advisor; Author,The HIP (Human Impact + Profit) Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World
“Developing the potential of every stakeholder (customer and investors as well) in the way you do business is good for business. The Responsible Business presents companies who have done it successfully and precisely how you can make it part of your strategy, leadership approach and build it into your work design. Take the high road and feel grounded and successful in doing it.”
– Chip Conley, CEO, Joie de Vivre Hotels, Author, Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow
“The Responsible Business is a remarkable book that pushes the over-hyped concept of corporate responsibility beyond punitive mandates to innovation solutions deeply grounded in the fundamentals of business. From her broad experience, Ms. Sanford has culled a rich collection of varied, and, quite frankly, enjoyable stories that shed new CSR light on tried and true business directives such as ‘know and align your stakeholders,’ and others like ‘think and act systemically’ more recently introduced into the business canon. Through its business minded practicality, The Responsible Business will push hopefully corporate responsibility even further: beyond the Corporate Citizenship department and into the profitability-focused boardroom.”
– Drew Banks, Author of Customer, Community and Beyond Spin
The road to corporate responsibility today demands a new level of courage: to recognize that a fundamental change is in the offing, and to act accordingly. Carol Sanford shows us how to put two simple yet essential truths into practice: that we are all part of a single interconnected world, where each part genuinely matters; and that people will take complete responsibility to transform their situation when challenged to look for and create the unexpected right where they are. Beyond Corporate Responsibility shows us how to tap into the hidden potential for practical innovation, and reinforces what every good business leader already knows — that a living spirit of commitment, once activated, renews everything. Read this book to discover its practical secrets.
– William Isaacs, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management; Author of Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together
ARTICLES ON THE RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS
Steve Cohen for Forbes on Making More Money by Being Responsible
Elaine Cohen for Corporate Responsibility Newswire
Louis Carter for Strategy+Business.com, “Our Own Worst Enemies”
Kathia C. Laszlo for Saybrook University’s Rethinking Complexity
Sam Ford for FastCompany.com discusses Design Thinking
Marc Gunther says “Let’s Do Away with CSR”
Sam Ford for FastCompany.com – “Corvette and the Importance of Community”