(Un)sustainability

Today, everyone in business school is talking about sustainability. In fact, it’s the staple question for any social entrepreneur in front of a funder. Is your business plan sustainable? And are your revenues sustainable?  In many ways I get it. It’s safe to fund social businesses that won’t rely on your funding next  year. But I also wonder how much weight people should actually be putting on sustainability. Instead I propose let’s look at a few things that are not sustainable to take action.

Imagine the school system on the south side of Chicago. Some of these failed school systems are totally unsustainable and need our attention. And if we don’t start working on them, the persistance rates will never get higher and the growing divide between rich and poor will accelerate faster than it is today.

Likewise, what about food portion size in the US and the resulting unsustainable weight issues of US citizens? This is a big one. Weight gain is a major factor in the development of diabetes, cancer and many other issues. When will we put a stop to this?

And what about the obvious one – global warming. Not only have the temperatures been rising for years but things like air pollution and carbon levels are radically changing. And if we keep up at the pace we’re on now, many people argue that the world be in severe trouble.

While you might debate me on some of the stats, you can’t argue that the trends are UNsustainable. So rather than spend 100% of the time discussing sustainable business plans, I’d be curious to hear more from mission-based organizations that want to work on these unsustainable trends. The cost of ignoring them is way too high.

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 Business School

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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