Sustainability is one of the hottest topics in supply chain and I’d expect its going to stay that way permanently.   It’s good for the environment and the right thing to do.   And it’s good for business and no one can argue with that.     Sustainability is really all about doing the right thing.  The right thing for the environment, for people working inside the company and also for those who live and work nearby.

One way to look at sustainability is as another evolutionary step along the road of  ‘quality’ that has taken us through the Toyota Production System (TPS), to Lean Enterprise and now to Sustainability.    Each of these steps has taken our focus further beyound the virtual ‘four walls’ of the enterpise.  Lean made us look at the entire supply chain.  Sustainability turns our focus beyond the global supply chain, to the impact the chain has on the environment and the people in and around it.

Doing the ‘wrong’ thing comes from weakness which leads directly to the temptation to take shortcuts not just to make more profit, but just to survive.  Companies can’t drive sustainability, the ‘right’ thing to do, unless they’re efficient and effective and doing the right things operationally.   The ability to do the right thing comes from strength, from depth of purpose and strong cultural foundation.  That sounds like Lean to me.    If you are looking for companies that truly support sustainability, look past the website PR and focus on what really enables them to do ‘walk the talk’.



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