Most of the time when someone suggests a business book, my face puckers like I have taken an unfortunate swig of sour milk. I know these books are insightful and provide all sorts of useful and juicy tidbits and I can’t really explain my irrational dislike of them but there you have it. Some people don’t like black-eyed peas, nor the smell of patchouli and I am not a fan of business books. But then, as usual, I made a fool of myself by extolling the greatness of “The Necessary Revolution” by Peter Senge a business book I just finished reading.
The book is about “sustainability” and how some businesses today are embracing this new age (new age as in era not the “aaa a aa” one); it chronicles what worked, what didn’t, the unexpected successes and alliances that formed. Some of the key themes from the book were:
- Collaboration – companies, normally competitive, working to solve industry-specific waste issues or alliances formed between NGOs and Fortune 500 companies to address water safety issues.
- Systems-thinking – describing what happens to what we make, buy and use within the context of the larger systems of nature
- Regenerative society – discusses the meaning of a vibrant, healthy, diverse community
One of the most amazing parts of the book described the interaction between humans and chimps and the ability of chimpanzees to communicate using human language or specially-designed keyboards. And not just “sit” and “stay” type commands but rather the chimps interacted in a contextual manner. The idea was to illustrate that although humans are unique, we are much more connected to the natural environment than we could ever have imagined. When I read this last chapter, I was completely blown away. I could not believe the stories of interaction between some of the chimpanzees and their human researchers. For me, it changed how I see our (human) place in nature; we really do share this planet with other creatures, whose range of emotions, ability to communicate and needs we are slowly beginning to understand.
The book is full of examples of groups, businesses, organizations working together successfully! The book had such a positive message, one that I don’t hear very often above the din of destruction, waste, pessimism I often associate with books dealing with our changing environment. The book also provided tips, toolkits and ideas for working on issues that readers may have within their community or organization. Really great, tactical advice on how to tackle some of the issues and problems many of us would like to improve in our working lives.