Creative Destruction – The Great Turning in Business

Creative Destruction – The Great Turning in Business

I suggest a Great Turning is underway in the business world as well. It is what, in Business School, we called the process of “Creative Destruction” — the term popularized by economist, Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. Schumpeter referred to the “perennial gale of creative destruction”, the process that puts business strategies to the test.

“…we call it the great turning and see it as the essential adventure of our time … This transition is well underway.

“It involves the transition of a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world.”

Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone in Active Hope: How to face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.

Creative DestructionWhat is the evidence of a great turning in business? Evidence that the “perennial gale of creative destruction” is blowing in a direction and with enough increasing force to drive a great turning to a sustainable society?

Consider this:

  •  The Wall Street Journal, as the voice of conventional business, roasts Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, for his public support of renewable energy.
  •  The Wall Street Journal skewers Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors whenever his company receives a subsidy or tax break for the development of electric car and battery manufacturing.
  •  The Wall Street Journal slams the clean-tech community with such headlines as, “So Much Promise; So Little Return.”
  • Meanwhile, cleantech entrepreneurs develop game changer technologies, such as Ecovative Design’s biologically-manufactured and biodegradable packaging material that could replace the ubiquitous, petrochemical product, Styrofoam.
  • Serial entrepreneur, Gunter Pauli, provides 100 examples of zero waste productionsystems in his book, The Blue Economy, published in 2010.
  • I could go on……

Thomas Kuhn notes that in scientific revolutions two competing paradigms, the current dominant one and a newer less established one, exist side by side for a while. At some point, the balance tips, and the dominant viewpoint flips from the old to the new. –not through analysis of which perspective is a better fit with reality, but rather, through dueling perspectives. I suggest the duel is on between the traditional, fossil fuel driven economy defended by the WSJ and the greener economy represented by such business mavens as Elon Musk, Eric Schmidt, Tom Steyer, Sir Richard Branson, and Ray Anderson.

You may not find a coherent statement of the new greener economy delivered to your door each morning in a well-written and well-reported set of articles assembled into an attractive newspaper. There is no blast of well-produced and slick broadcasting at noon on CNBC to provide midday updates on which companies have achieved zero waste and which clean-tech entrepreneurs are on the cutting edge. No 5PM programming to update us on how much progress toward a sustainable society was made during this business day.

The news of the new green economy, instead, comes in dribs and drabs throughout the day, mostly through emails and e-newsletters, through webinars and conferences on clean technologies and business models, through technical trainings, and LinkedIn groups; through conversations and speakers at green drinks gatherings and sustainable business network events; Through one on one networking and discussions with fellow green biz folks and in occasional university courses; Through books – new ones coming out every day.

So, yes it is possible to spend all day, to live one’s life, in the green business bubble, and I do. But for people who have a day job, and time to get their business news only from reading the WSJ and/or glancing at CNBC while playing with the kids after work, the evidence of the greener economy may not be apparent.



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