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Why green is not a strategy

As Thomas Ricks argues in the book Fiasco, we often mix up strategy and tactics.

Big companies frequently make this mistake when it comes to environmental issues.

Many suggest that going ‘greener’ (or commonly, ‘green’) is a strategy, when actually it’s a tactic.

Sustainability is the strategy, ‘greener’ is part of the tactics used to try and begin getting there.

Alongside, of course, social, and governance-related matters, such as tax planning.

Ricks argues thus:

“…strategy. That is a grand-sounding word, and it is frequently misused by laymen as a synonym for tactics. In fact, strategy has a very different and quite simple meaning that flows from just one short set of questions.

Who are we, and what are we ultimately trying to do here? How will we do it, and what resources and means will we employ in doing it? The four answers give rise to one’s strategy.

Ideally, one’s tactics will then follow from them – that is, this is who we are, this is the outcome we wish to achieve, this is how we aim to do it, and this is what we will use to do it. But addressing the questions well can be surprisingly difficult, and if the answers are incorrect or incomplete, or the goals listed not reachable, then the consequences can be disastrous.”

1 Comment

  1. David Roberts

    Hear, hear! I hate to use the word "holistic" (which turns business off almost as much as the word "sustainable") but company strategies have got to take the broad view. Typical green measures are visible – good PR – and hence often the soft option. Managing social impacts such as corruption or labour abuse(which are often hidden and involve people) can be more complex. I have formed a company, Dagero Ltd, to try to provide a better balance of strategic advice.

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