The UN called the recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on climate change a “code red for humanity”. However, individual behavioural changes and new technologies are not enough to address the world’s tremendous climate change and sustainability challenges.
Placing all our faith in technologies like renewable energies, Industry 4.0, electric vehicles, and smart cities is a risky strategy. What if the theories don’t work? Can we develop and scale them fast enough? What’s more, the IPCC report stated that “fossil fuel combustion for energy, industry and land transportation are the largest contributing sectors on a 100-year time scale”. Given that a large percentage of the current demand for energy and land transportation is from industry means that industry must shoulder its responsibility and lead the way.
Changing the global industrial ecosystem
The behaviours and business models we’ve accepted as the status quo since the dawn of the industrial age are inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful. These have been defined by internal and external silos of competence, an adversarial buyer/supplier relationship, and a highly competitive environment that is ultimately to the detriment of all involved. If we perpetuate this behaviour it will lead to a ‘mutually assured destruction’ of a very different kind to the one envisioned during the cold war era.
Being able to see the systemic problems with the status quo is what led me to develop The Quorum Principle as a possible solution. The Quorum Principle is a simple concept based on collaboration and is the antithesis of the status quo. It removes competency silos, turns suppliers into partners, and replaces competition with collaboration. It changes the nature of the relationship between manufacturers and suppliers and between suppliers in the ecosystem. Imagine your five largest strategic suppliers working together with you and each other to achieve your business objectives. The combined value of these suppliers is far more than any one of them can deliver individually.
New status quo tackles climate change together
Bringing our combined capabilities to bear towards a common goal would make global industry far more efficient and effective. The impact on consumption, waste, and emissions would be huge and achievable in a very short time frame. Most importantly, we can start making this change today. We just need to show the leadership, courage, and determination to make this way of working the new status quo.
Some might say that The Quorum Principle is idealistic and unrealistic. Two years ago, I might have agreed. However, the global response to Covid-19 has provided many examples of collaboration that we would not have imagined in late 2019, including the global vaccine effort, the Ventilator Challenge, working from home, and almost no face-to-face business meetings. Necessity is the mother of invention and when faced with a global crisis and a common goal we have shown that we can quickly change our behaviour, collaborate, and make a huge impact.
The last 20 months have been devastating and most people realise that Covid-19 presents an immediate threat to human life. Climate change is just as much of an immediate threat to life we need to address now. Furthermore, climate change is not only a code red for humanity; it is a threat to all life on earth. This is a global crisis of our own making, and we have a joint responsibility and mutual need to find a solution.
Sustainable industries represent paradigm shift for leaders
In 1991 Geoffrey Moore published his book, Crossing the Chasm, to describe the challenge new products and technologies face in reaching mainstream adoption. The Quorum Principle faces adoption challenges that are much bigger than that of a single product or technology. Whilst in many ways it is nothing more than a disruptive business model, to describe it as such understates both the size of the challenge and more importantly, the significance of the impact it could have.
Adopting The Quorum Principle is a strategic, board-level decision. It is a binary choice between sticking with the status quo or adopting a new business model that has implications across the organisation and beyond. Such change can only be driven from the top down. The companies and leaders that inspire most of us are the visionaries who innovate, create, and disrupt. The ones who challenge the status quo. They are the leaders I am looking for. It is my firm belief that if we can start collaborating in this way on a global scale, it might buy us the time we need for technology to save the day. Maybe this is our way of crossing the climate change abyss.
Join The Quorum Principle debate with manufacturing leaders at the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit on November 10. Register now.