As I explore ideas and models for my next venture, I decided to re-read Ray Anderson’s book, Mid-Course Correction. The first time I read it, I was inspired. But now I truly see how visionary he was.
When I first read Mid-Course Correction, I was excited to see that Ray Anderson was setting an example for sustainable business. As I read his words “This really cannot go on indefinitely . . . my company’s technologies and those of every other company I know of anywhere, in their present forms, are plundering the earth,” I thought to my self: “he got it.” Anderson not only understood Hawken’s message in Ecology of Commerce, but he absorbed it, taking action on it and calling others towards action as well. Interface is a great example of a company taking leadership in sustainability in an obviously non-sustainable industry.
Now reading the same book five years later, after Anderson’s death and through the lens of exploring my own new manufacturing venture, I see that his vision is not just brilliant, it makes sense; common sense. “I always make the business case for sustainability,” he said. “It’s so compelling. Our costs are down, not up. Our products are the best they have ever been . . .”
When looking at his Prototypical Company of the 21st Century diagram and closed loop production and business processes, I am struck by the fact that his ideas are truly visionary. These are not easy objectives to meet; it requires a re-engineering of old systems. His business model is a primary case study for how to build a sustainable manufacturing process and I am looking at how to replicate it.
I wish I had the opportunity to thank Ray Anderson for being the pioneer. I want to thank him for looking down the road and around the bend. For building a visionary business model; a model for a sustainable future. I hope that I can build on that vision and create a business that integrates that vision and carries it forth with integrity.
Thank you Ray Anderson. Rest in peace.