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What I learned about Sustainability at REI


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This is a talk I will deliver for MBA students at Darden School of Business University of Virginia. I hope to share some lessons from my experience leading Sustainable Business strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility at REI for the past 7 years.

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What I learned about Sustainability at REI

  1. 1. What I learned aboutSustainabilityat REI@KevinHagenwww.KevinHagenCSR.orgApril 2013
  2. 2. What is Sustainable Business?A more powerful way of thinkingabout how enterprise creates anddelivers value to customers“Do the right thing” can be atrap, not a sustainable businessstrategy
  3. 3. Slide courtesy of Bob Willard www.sustainabilityadvantage.comOrganizationstransition through aseries of stagesmoving fromconventionalthinking tosustainable businessthinking.How do you get there?
  4. 4. 1: Abundance over ScarcitySustainable Business isnot the opposite ofconventional thinking –it is a different way oflooking at the world.Rather than scarcity wesee abundance
  5. 5. 2: Metrics over IntuitionIntuition formed throughconventional businesssuccess is likely toreinforce blind spots.Rigorous, timelysustainability metrics canreveal new opportunitiesand hidden risks
  6. 6. 3: Incremental and BreakthroughIncremental improvements delivernear term returns and train us tosee more opportunity.Radical incrementalism can result.Break-through changes areneeded to move from “doing lessbad” to “achieving more good”
  7. 7. 4: Innovation over Trade-offsSustainable business isnot about better balanceTo accept either/or thinkingresults in compromiseHolding higher expectationsto deliver environmental/social and economic resultsdrives innovation andbusiness success
  8. 8. 5: Systems over Silos• Sustainability is asuccessful system.• Breakthroughs come fromradical collaboration• The goal is achieving moregood, not simply less bad• There comes a time to getout of the way
  9. 9. More onSustainable Business andCorporate Social 2013