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Defining Sustainability

How often have we heard the words “what do you mean by sustainability?” Perhaps it avoids definition because sustainability applies to so many facets of our lives, to so many business or organizational strategies, to so many approaches we might take to moving to desirable outcomes. Does the notion of sustainability have a time period attached to it? One that says if you can keep something up for a certain amount of time you have crossed the threshold of sustainability?  In the world of environmental policy, sustainability has come to mean that if an organization is not meeting certain environmental…

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Quaker Capitalism

I was recently invited to offer observations on the evolving role of “values” and incentives in businesses, particularly from the perspective of a so-called “financial buyer.”  The convening was organized in London by the Center for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics and was titled “Quaker Capitalism.” I graduated from university a bit over 50 years ago, and after a brief tour in the armed forces, several years at a commercial bank and business school, I ended up on Wall Street.  I came to advise corporations on merger and acquisition transactions, working for one of what were then a number of small,…

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