Sustainable Innovation and Change: The Learning-Based Path to Growth

For companies that want to make sustainable development a reality, building organizational learning capabilities can be invaluable. Organizational learning has proven very effective in bringing about lasting change and fundamental innovation. In fact, every company interested in capturing growth through innovation and change has needed to develop critical organizational learning capabilities to meet its goals.

When these approaches take hold in an arena such as sustainable development, exponential increases in the rate of innovation become possible, leading to compelling breakthroughs in new products and processes, as well as cost savings from energy efficiency and reduced materials use and waste. Moreover, assumptions behind sustainable industrial design, such as dematerialization, cradle-to-cradle product responsibility, and “natural” strategies for growth, cooperation, and competitive success (i.e., strategies based on patterns observed in nature), shake up existing industrial habits of thinking and doing and spur people to fresh solutions. Finally, sustainable approaches to business challenges can reduce exposure to incident and liability risks.

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