Problem Solving Can be a Problem

Problem Solving Can be a Problem

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I was honored to be asked to kick off MIT Sloan sustainability series. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, followed me a few months later. He talks about what a business can do with its business practices to reverse the problems that business has created. In my talk, I am asking businesses to see themselves as part of a living system, and to learn to be a integral aspect of the working of that system. In other words, Immelt is talking about problems and I am talking about potential–both are important, but it is important to know what they can each produce.

Ticky Tacky

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  When Malvina Reynolds sang about “little boxes on the hillside,” she was describing the monotony that is created when our homes and neighborhoods fail to reflect the essence of people in a unique place. While the song illustrates this with the image of a housing development, the same observation holds true for businesses. People intuitively react negatively to big chains that give no consideration to a local community and its distinctiveness. Many cities fight back, trying to stop the flood of commodification of their communities that box stores bring. It is often said that this fight is about losing local businesses, but it may be better said that it is about losing the “essence of place” with which local businesses are more connected. Communities are fighting valiant battles. These battles would be more effective if they focused not only on slowing or stopping the pace of commodification of their towns

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