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Sustainable Frontiers

Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation

Sustainable Frontiers throws down the gauntlet to business to step up and be the catalyst for a sustainable future. It presents eight keys to unlocking transformational change – through leadership, enterprise, innovation, transparency, engagement, responsibility, integration and future-fitness. Far from being another tame review of corporate social responsibility and sustainable business initiatives, the book dispels the myths of sustainability and challenges us to let go of old systems that are failing to deliver economic, social and environmental transformation. 

Sustainable Frontiers gets to the heart of why the sustainability and CSR movements have failed in the past and offers a new view of how sustainable business practices can shape-shift to make a genuine difference inside and outside organisations. The book gathers together experiences from across the globe and shows to the reader what can be achieved with the right vision and leadership. Expect to be challenged, engaged and inspired to join the revolution on the sustainable frontier.

Making a successful transition to a more sustainable future depends on letting go. Sustainable Frontiers shows how we must find ways to let go of an industrial system that has served us well, but is no longer fit for purpose. How we will need to let go of old styles of leadership and out-dated models of business, high-impact lifestyles and selfish values. How we must learn to let go of cherished ideologies that are causing destruction and beliefs about ways to tackle problems that are failing to resolve crises.

If we are to reach sustainable frontiers, it must begin with changing our collective minds - and only then will we change our collective behaviour. How we accomplish such a global mind-shift is the subject of Sustainable Frontiers. And it starts by admitting that those of us at the vanguard of the sustainability revolution also have to change. We will also have to let go of cherished beliefs and strategies that are not working - starting with the way we communicate our vital, life-saving mission.

One of the most important authors that have driven the discussion about sustainability and corporate social responsibility is Wayne Visser. His latest book is Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovationin which he offers readers a holistic vision of a new sustainable future. 

Ulula on 1 Jun 2015 Linda Pappagallo

Wayne Visser’s new book  Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change Through Business, Leadership and Innovation  is compelling reading for practitioners, academics and other thinkers about the wide-ranging host of topics embraced in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) to sustainability vector.  Visser’s 23 prior books and dozens of articles are abridged and importantly expanded upon in this volume.

 

The key idea in this new book is that unlocking change in a variety of key concept areas is essential to reaching an idealistic but desirable future for sustainability thinking and practice.  He identifies areas as needing “unlocking” to include transformational leadership, enterprise reform, technology innovation, corporate transparency, stakeholder engagement, social responsibility, integrated value and fitness for the future.  In each of these substantive areas he condenses their past and describes their desired future.  His “unlocking change” metaphor reminds me of the first step in social psychologist Kurt Lewin’s three-step change model which embraces unfreezing, changing and then refreezing.  Visser’s unlocking stage is similar to Lewin’s unfreezing of previous models/concepts and becoming aware of the need for change and letting go of the past. This is, indeed, a vital first step for transformational change in each of these realms.

 

Wayne Visser’s writings have always impressed me. He thinks about the future in an innovative way and builds upon what has been written in the past. He depicts the past as reasonable places we once were but which are no longer valid for the anticipated future.  Because it is difficult to say where the business-and-society world actually will be in this uncompromising model he has characterized, he presents ten different forecasts for the sustainable frontiers which may approach the state of where we will be ten years into the future.  What I like about his writing is that he has extrapolated the present into the future and is willing to creatively project where we ought to be if the best world is to be achieved. His emphasis on technological change and innovation is always first rate.

 

I enthusiastically recommend this book for newcomers or veterans in the field of sustainability, CSR, stakeholder management and related and competing frameworks.

 

Archie B. Carroll, Scherer Professor of Management Emeritus, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, and co-author of Business and Society: Ethics, Sustainability and Stakeholder Management, 9th Edition, and Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience, 2012.

“Dr. Wayne Visser has written an immensely informative and enlightening book. While it introduces complex subjects, it does so in a clear, easy to understand manner. At the same time, his argument is profound, cutting edge, and thought provoking. I highly recommend his book for both novices and experts, and predict experienced practitioners will greatly enjoy Wayne’s thoughtful and thought provoking ideas. As someone who for over 30 years has worked at improving Fortune 500 companies, I believe business leaders and their organizations will be wise to pay attention and to re-focus on sustainability and social responsibility. As we say at Omnex, ‘Sustainability is the next Quality”. I highly recommend Dr. Wayne Visser’s book Sustainable Frontiers.”

Chad Kymal, Chief Technical Officer, Omnex, Inc.

“Wayne Visser's latest book, Sustainable Frontiers, will make quite an impact among the professionals of sustainability. Speaking of sustainability supporters (or superheroes, as Dr. Visser calls them), one of my favourite bits in the book is their classification: experts, facilitators, catalysts and activists. The book attempts a systemic approach at 'unlocking' sustainability via a series of 8 key factors: leadership, enterprise reform, technology, corporate transparency, stakeholder engagement, social responsibility, integrated value and future fitness. Readers will recognize some of the terms, be intrigued or baffled by others and point out that some of them are better known under a different name. The up side is, we have a very well-structured book, easy to read and to follow and, most importantly, a book whose purpose goes beyond the first lecture, staying as a great companion, guide and ready reference along one's journey through the field of sustainability.”

 

Leonard Bacica, Company Manager of Kibo Productions

"In a world where we are faced with a negative resource budget for the planet and deepening income inequality, change is urgently needed. The change is a must if we are to sustain our planet and advance the lives of people. Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation by Dr Wayne Visser is about this change that upholds the transition to a sustainable future.

The book explores today’s challenges of unsustainable industrialism that can be transformed into tomorrow’s opportunities. A precondition to this transformation is to learn the art of letting go. If we cling to the known, we will repel the new models that are fit for our purpose. A paradigm shift in our collective minds is the starting point on this journey of reaching sustainable frontiers.

A blend of scientific facts along with well-versed storytelling, Sustainable Frontiers calls for exploring solutions in the world as we know it. The book is an invaluable source of knowledge and inspiration for business and policy makers.

Each of the eight book chapters presents an arena for change, offering an array of solutions in the areas of leadership, enterprise, innovation, transparency, engagement, responsibility, integration and future-fitness.

At the end of the book, the author underlines ten sustainable frontiers forecasts for the next decade. These forecasts represent present and emerging trends in the field of sustainability. Time will tell whether all the predictions come true; however let us hope and work to ensure that they transpire, as it is very much in our own interest to unlock the vital changes needed."

 

Karina Yadav, Founder of CSRway and author of The CSR International Research Compendium

“Another comprehensive, thoughtful and inspiring work! I particularly appreciated the (unconventional) call to merge the business and natural worlds, as the book makes reference to elephants and geese as guiding images for organizational change. If the words we use to a large extent define us, how much more is that true for metaphors.”

 

Eduardo Sasso, Business Consultant, Ethelo Decisions

“How can frontiers of sustainability be pursued by unlocking change? In the book “Sustainable Frontiers- Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation” by Wayne Visser I gained insights into ways of letting go of the dominating industrial system and old styles of leadership. Even though companies increasingly recognise the need for social and environmental responsibility, Visser states that the success of CSR should be judged within the “context of the total impact of business on society and the planet”. The book critically assesses different approaches to CSR, often being characterised by incremental and peripheral change, as well as an emphasis on the business case rather than on strategic, long-term change.

Due to these shortcomings, he argues that business needs to “establish a new and broader role for itself”, for which sustainability can be a catalyst. His inspiring sustainability vision balances social, environmental and economic change, fundamentally striving towards progress and well- being. New business paradigms should focus on delivering services to society, pursuing co-operation, and seeing businesses as human institutions. I agree with his call for a transformative CSR which identifies and tackles root causes of unsustainability and irresponsibility in our society.

In order to strive towards a sustainable future, the collective minds of our society must change. How to accomplish such a “global mind- shift” is the main subject of the book. The following main themes of unlocking change are explored: transformational leadership, enterprise reform, technology innovation, corporate transparency, stakeholder engagement, integrated value and future- fitness. Examples from all around the world illustrate exciting ways of successfully driving change. At the same time Visser takes a pragmatic approach by critically assessing barriers to sustainable change and possible negative consequences, hence providing realistic insights. Throughout the book, Visser draws interconnections between fields of sustainable change, such as the role of social media in enhancing stakeholder dialogue. He thus forms a holistic understanding of the diverse range of sustainability challenges.

I enjoyed reading the book because of the creative use of language and the inspiring best practice cases. In the end, Visser outlines forecasts of sustainable frontiers for the next 10 years, essentially summarising insights on how to unlock sustainable change. Overall, this book offers valuable guidance on how companies can unlock change to become a significant part of the solution to a sustainable future.”

Elena Ollendiek, Imperial College London

"Sustainable Frontiers identifies innovative ideas and important signposts for the future development of CSR and the sustainability movement as a whole. This well-written book offers plenty of inspiration due to its engagement and reflections on the bigger picture of sustainable business. Visser manifests himself again as an engaged, well-informed and catchphrase-savvy author and has, yet again, delivered an inspirational read."

 

Dr Lars Moratis, Open University: The Netherlands and Antwerp Management School

“In his new book Sustainable Frontiers Wayne Visser takes us on a ride to show how modern society may ‘unlock’ change to assure a more sustainable future. A mosaic of case studies and life events bring even CSR novices up-to-speed on what the past and current trends in sustainability and CSR are, and masterfully calls out how actual change will happen in today’s world. The CSR revolution is coming, and practitioners should not be caught off-guard.”

Philipp Hirche, Founder of WikiRate

"Wayne Visser has done it again. Inspiring and thought-provoking, the author continues to offer us new insights on how to bring about transformational change for sustainability. With a truly global perspective that seeks innovation in diverse parts of the world, Sustainable Frontiers is a must read to help businesses and sustainability practitioners worldwide continue moving forward." 

 

Maria Irigoyen, Director, ReporteSocial

This is a book whose time has well and truly come — we live in a time when we need to re-invigorate the sustainability agenda, and Visser’s book is realistic without being Pollyanna-ish, and critical without succumbing to nihilism. At last, we have a book that talks innovation, that talks co-operation, that talks stakeholder theory in a new electronic age. This book is a breath of fresh air and a must read for anyone — business person, community member, educator — who cares for our planet and is passionate about striving for transformational change.

Dr Colin Higgins, MBA Director, Centre for Sustainable & Responsible Organisations, Deakin University

The new book on Sustainable Frontiers is a unique amalgamation of sustainability practices across the world unravelling the realities and challenges in actual practice, while suggesting a futuristic vision and pragmatic leadership to unlock transformational change. Authored by one of the pioneers and distinguished experts on corporate social responsibility and sustainability, Dr Wayne Visser, the book truly holds immense value for significant learning by sustainability and development practitioners across businesses and sustainable enterprises worldwide.

Aparna Mahajan, Director, Resource Mobilization and Partnerships, S M Sehgal Foundation

As an art and a science, CSR is undergoing dramatic and exciting changes and the field promises to be just as dynamic in the years ahead. Sustainable Frontiers is inspiring, critical and insightful and I enjoyed it immensely. The author's style is clear and provocative and he avoids overly complex definitions in favour of clarity. With his unique prose, he shows how CSR plays a pivotal and expanding role in shaping the success of any firm or organisation worldwide.

Nikolaos J. Pentsas, Head of International Business Development, Apson

Reading Dr. Wayne Visser's book is an inspirational journey to understanding the need for change and our role in building connections. Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation brings us a message of hope: don’t be afraid! We can do this! We can change what does not work at the moment; we can change what will hurt us in the future. How can we do that? Dr. Visser offers us the essential elements to unlock the change and secure the future: transformational leadership, enterprise reform, technology innovation, corporate transparency, stakeholder engagement, integrated value and future-fitness.

Professor Rodica Milena Zaharia, University of Economic Studies from Bucharest

Yet another thought-provoking book from Wayne Visser. This book once again proves that sustainability is not just a buzzword. Based on Wayne’s experience of working as an expert in this field in different parts of the world, this book provides some practical insights on how sustainability can be achieved from a business point of view.

Md Nazmul Hasan, Royal Holloway, University of London

Today, all businesses need to act with sustainability and CSR at heart to be able to get full commitment and trust from both internal and external stakeholders. This book will help us understand why, and what can be done to prevent missteps and hindrances to successful implementation.

 

Ardis Armannsdottir, Expert on Social Entrepreneurship

The world of corporate sustainability is fast-moving, complicated, and beset with deeply irritating jargon. Ideas evolve rapidly; companies love novelty for its own sake, and can’t stop themselves reinventing the wheel; consultancies and think-tanks are keen to prove their own superior products and their own "intellectual capital". Conceptually, it’s all a bit of a mess!

So if you want to sort the wheat from the chaff, and disentangle the gobbledegook from the ideas and practice that really matter, then Wayne Visser is your man – and Sustainable Frontiers provides a great way of accessing important insights into a world that is going to be more and more critical to future business success.

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

Sustainable Frontiers, true to its title, is an out-of-the-box, transformative, holistic vision of "future earth" that takes one well beyond current concerns about sustainability. The author’s innovative concepts (e.g. CSR 2.0), extensive global experience (70 nations in 20 years), his keen grasp of digital technology’s potentials, plus a pragmatic linkage of scholarly theory with business practices might well be labelled “Visserian” pathways leading business, society and the entire globe into a liveable future. “Unlocking change” – in corporate leadership, transparency, technological innovation, stakeholder relations, value integration and biocultural fitness – is the author’s “golden thread” that weaves the needed solution.  Listen up, students, professors, corporate leaders!

William C. Frederick Professor Emeritus, Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

Another must-read from one of the true thought leaders in corporate responsibility and sustainability. Never one to shy away from sharing bold, unflinching truths — including the motivations that drive individuals and corporations to pursue sustainability careers and goals — Dr Visser's Sustainable Frontiers outlines not only why but how we can move from programmatic efforts to truly transformational crowdsourcing and value-chain approaches. He makes a convincing case that developing and implementing new systemic models is imperative if we are to build truly sustainable businesses, rather than seeking market advantage through perceived leadership.

John Friedman, author of 'PR 2.0: How Digital Media Can Help You Build A Sustainable Brand'

Wayne Visser has written a powerful and comprehensive overview of the leadership needed to navigate our times with integrity, efficiency and common sense. Here are actionable solutions for a sustainable and thriving world for all – there’s no getting round it now!

Peter Merry, Chief Innovation Officer, Ubiquity University

By setting out clearly the rationale of the sustainability movement, the book unlocks changes through transformational leadership and technology innovation that could play a pivotal role in reshaping corporations.

Dr Tapan Sarker, Discipline Leader, Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University Business School

Wayne has woven a "wonder-full" quilt of ideas, contexts and currents on where Sustainability has brought us - and could take us. Enjoyable, erudite, entertaining and enlightened.

Dr Puvan J. Selvanathan, Head, Food and Agriculture, UN Global Compact

Sustainable Frontiers offers a radically different approach about how to handle change. For sustainability to become reality and not just be a politically correct buzzword, the elephant must replace the lion as the guiding spirit.

Clem Sunter, Scenario Planner and author of '21st Century Megatrends'

A book for the season – a time for doing, a time for moving ahead and not a time for endless debate and posturing. A book that provides answers to the questions that we had. A must-read for anyone interested in CSR/sustainability.

Thomas Thomas, CEO, ASEAN CSR Network

Wayne takes the reader on a journey, from the individual, business and systems approach to the now moniker of a term, CSR and sustainability – and he does not miss a thing! Utilizing live case studies from across the globe of innovative approaches to addressing these complex issues, he allows the reader to reach an informed opinion of where to take a stand.

Ruby Sandhu, Lawyer, Mediator, Facilitator and Founder of RS Collaboration

Sustainable Frontiers describes a new and exciting path for business that truly sustains the planet and all its inhabitants. It calls the sustainable business movement to task for its failure to adopt cultures and practices that are truly restorative and sustainable. And it offers a clear set of principles to guide the transformation to sustainability that is dearly needed. My hat's off to Mr Visser for writing a timely and insightful book.

Bob Doppelt, Executive Director The Resource Innovation Group and Transformational Resilience Program; author of 'Leading Change toward Sustainability and From Me to We'

Sustainable Frontiers brings the kind of well-informed yet readable insights to sustainability that we have come to expect from Wayne Visser. This book is much more than a dry textbook; it deals with complex issues succinctly, with verve and understanding. The author is one of the few sustainability protagonists who is unencumbered by a narrow lens on the world. A truly global perspective is taken, embracing the latest developments and combining them with scholarly and wide-ranging business examples. Above all, the book is forward-looking, offering measured solutions and suggestions for the future. 

Laura J. Spence, Professor of Business Ethics, Royal Holloway University of London

Wayne Visser combines a globally informed big-picture approach to transitioning capitalism toward a thriving future, with hundreds of great examples and stories of the transformations taking place at the edges of our mainstream corporate system. The big question, as always, is how fast can that scale in a race between declining natural carrying capacities and rapidly evolving human, social and intellectual capacities for innovation and breakthrough?

 

Calls for “collaborative capitalism” have been made since I introduced that term in 2000- the key question is how to motivate human beings to play positive sum games. Visser’s “Creating Integrated Value” concept is a good starting point for one of the most important conversations on the planet today. He comprehensively covers the key trends shaping the possibilities emerging for a regenerative economics- for example, net value footprinting, Web 2.0, the role of meaning and purpose, and putting the soul back into work- all form part of his vision of Transformative CSR. A fun and highly informative read. As Wayne himself puts it:

“..What are we building? We are building nothing less than a new form of capitalism- one that serves society and sustains the planet” (p 120)

Dr Robin Wood, author of 'A Leader’s Guide to ThriveAbility and Founder of the ThriveAbility Foundation'

Acknowledgements

Introduction: the art of letting go

1. Unlocking change through transformational leadership

2. Unlocking change through enterprise reform

3. Unlocking change through technology innovation

4. Unlocking change through corporate transparency

5. Unlocking change through stakeholder engagement

6. Unlocking change through social responsibility

7. Unlocking change through integrated value

8. Unlocking change through future-fitness

Epilogue: connecting Earth and sky

WAYNE VISSER is the author of 25 books. He is Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and Senior Associate at Cambridge University. He has been listed as a top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior.

 

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