I interviewed Robert L. Lattimer who discussed what he considers to be the next generation of sustainability, which he refers to as Universal Sustainability. Robert L. Lattimer is the Senior Fellow, Diversity Studies, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Prior to this, Robert was a Global Partner and Practice Leader, Accenture/Andersen Consulting, as part of the firm's Organization & Change Strategy Practice.
Robert provided an overview of Universal Sustainability based on an article that he authored and which was published entitled Universal Sustainability: The Next Form of Competitiveness. The article was published in Competition Forum Journal, September, 2011. He also wrote a recent editorial, Universal Sustainability: The Economy and Competitiveness 2012, which was published February 2012 in Sustainability: The Journal of Record.
Robert discussed the key messages contained within the concept of Universal Sustainability, which are as follows:
1. Framing the Issue: The issues associated with Universal Sustainability; that it is my position that the operating framework of Universal Sustainability may hold the key to unlocking the next wave of business innovation and growth. It may also promise to reconnect economic competitive organizations and policymakers with that of the success of the global society. It is this new model, this new construct of Universal Sustainability that may well shape the next form of economic competitiveness and social stability.
When seen through the lens of the economic and social lens, Universal Sustainability is a new economic and social discipline, as such represents in my view, the next generation of sustainability, which goes beyond a focus on the environment, preservation and conservation. Universal sustainability goes beyond this. It has a primary focus on the economy, with a primary focus on education, science and technology, political systems, as well as preservation, the environment and conservation.
In essence, Universal Sustainability is viewed within in the context of next generation thinking around the concept and notion of sustainability.
2. The Current Reality: The needs of the 21st century global society are numerous; issues involving the economy, education, environment, political systems, social structures, science and technology, regional conflicts, healthcare, acceptance of diversity, economic inequalities, globalization, and so much more are have an impact, are creating a crisis of great complexity, of which must be addressed within a context.
It has been my observation, that the calculus of sustainability is rarely applied to such issues, except in isolation, and that is because its problem-solving and decision-making boundaries are perceived as too narrow, that is they are focused on environmental and conservation issues, even when expanded to the notion of the triple bottom line.
The introduction of the new, more expanded model of sustainability, Universal Sustainability, and its framework of a more inter-connected and integrative approach, offers the operating framework for the greater resolution to the issues as presented within this current and challenging reality; we are now at the tipping point.
The current reality is sustainability within the narrow context. We are now expanding beyond the current reality to a new reality which is the notion of Universal Sustainability as it relates to next generation thinking. It is a much broader context, a more integrative context and a more problem solving and decision making process that deals with the dilemmas, challenges and opportunities of 21st century global society.
3. Redefining Sustainability: A New Global Value System: Although the roots of Universal Sustainability grew out of the sustainability movement, Universal Sustainability should be considered as the next generation, and as such, Universal Sustainability has a focus on identifying and establishing the intersection of social and economic progress. The concept of Universal Sustainability rests on the premise that both economic and social progress ought to be addressed to the attainment of the highest returns on global social progress, rather than on a narrow definition of profit attainment. As such, the operational concept of Universal Sustainability resets the boundaries of capitalism by integrating competitive economic and social progress, there-in is the new integrative approach.
Universal Sustainability also incorporates Dov Seidman's notion of "situational values" and "sustainable values." Situational values involve calculations about what is available in the here and now; they are about exploiting short-term opportunities rather than consistently living the principles that may create long-term success. Sustainable values are the values that connect us deeply as humans, such as shared responsibility. Situational values push us toward the strategy of becoming "too big to fail." Sustainable values inspire us to pursue the strategy of becoming "too sustainable to fail."
4. The Promise of Universal Sustainability: Universal Sustainability in summary promises a recalibration, a rebooting of the current form of capitalism to that of a more integrative economic process that contains the elements of innovation, profit and social stability, within the sustainable values construct.
The New Age of Competitiveness
Economic competitiveness lies at the crux of the matter, or the foundational element - profits versus societal issues. When we talk about competitive organizations and the environment, conservation and situational values versus sustainable values the operative process that is designed to develop a 21st century global society that is sustainable.
It redefines the notion and differentiates the process between sustainability (which has a primary focus on environment, conservation, and preservation) to the Universal Sustainability Process which has a primary focus sustainable values. Those values then inspire us to pursue a strategy of becoming too sustainable to fail.
We integrate social values such as the social indicators for progress and human indicators for progress, within the overall rebooting and re-defining the 'new capitalism'. The new capitalism does not have a primary focus on just profits, but on sustainable values which incorporate social indicators for progress and human indicators for progress within the profit motive. The new age of competitiveness with be more sustainable because of the value system of sustainable values and the integration of the processes of the human index and social indicators of progress, within a profit oriented operative motive.
It is a recalibration and rebooting of the process of sustainability.
It is also important to note that Ann Lee-Jeffs and Robert Lattimer work very closely on this issue, and they are co-authoring a book on Universal Sustainability; it is scheduled to be presented to the publisher by January 2013.