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Book Review of: Green to Gold
How smart companies use environmental strategy to
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Green to Gold by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston (Softcover, 2009)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Green to Gold belongs on every executive's reading list. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, executives learned that a good safety program was actually a competitive edge rather than "additional overhead." The same became true of quality in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, very few executives would pooh-pooh either safety or quality. Doings so would be the career kiss of death, for one thing. We are now seeing the equivalent for green.
For what it offers, the book is modestly priced. It goes beyond the primer level to deliver true business book content. Yes, the business book market has been flooded lately with children's novellas posing as business books. But Green to Gold is definitely not one of those. This is a serious work, and it provides useful information.
Let's look at some strengths and weaknesses of Green to Gold.
Some strengths of this book
Some negatives about this book
About the book
This book runs about 300 pages. Probably half of those could be eliminated by eliminating redundant text. To me, this is a 150 page book, maybe 200 pages tops. It consists of 12 chapters, two prefaces, an introduction, and three appendices. It has extensive notes and a comprehensive index. The acknowledgments section is 2.5 pages long.
The 12 chapters are arranged into four parts. Each part has an introduction that is 1.5 pages long, except for Part Two (3.5 pages long).
Part One discusses what's driving the green movement and why those drivers and the movement itself are permanent. The authors aren't proselytizing, just describing what is. The do weaken their case a bit by dragging in Al "conspicuous consumption" Gore, who has made millions of dollars peddling nonsense that he personally does not believe. It is better to stick to facts, as they stand on their own without any "creativeness" from predators like Al Gore. Part One contains chapters 1 - 3.
Part Two talks in general terms about building a green strategy. It makes the business case. It looks at examples where green strategies reduce risk and cost. For the low-hanging fruit, at least, there is a high ROI. Much of what people call "green" is simply a better, more effective way of doing business. Part Two contains chapters 4 and 5.
Part Three is the case history part of the book. There are case histories elsewhere, but here we really go into specific examples and analysis. This Part contains four chapters, each of which looks at things from a different perspective. Part Three contains chapters 6 - 9.
Part Four lays out a process for making green initiatives into reality. The first chapter firmly grounds us. To avoid the head in the clouds mentality that prevents lasting change, the first chapter talks about why environmental initiatives fail. The lessons learned here are valuable in many ways. The next chapter explains how to execute green initiatives for sustained competitive advantage, and the final chapter talks about plays, tools, and plans to obtain that sustained competitive advantage. Part Four contains chapters 10 - 12.
My criticisms of this book have to be weighed against the price of this book. In its price range, this book is outstanding. Against a more broad measure, it's disappointing.
The strengths of this book would be expected of a book in a much higher price range. It's those strengths that make this book well-worth reading. It raises issues all corporate executives must face. Those issues don't have to be a burden or profit drain. They can be, as the title infers, a source of gain. This book is an excellent resource for anyone in the executive suite.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.