A great new report and work program from John Elkington’s new outfit Volans. The concept is that the future we talk about in Chapter Four is most promising for new Phoenix Enterprises which will emerge from the flames of the Perfect Storm’s crucible. As we say in the book, many of the current incumbents of the corporate world may just not be nimble enough to make the grade. Indeed in many ways it’s a shame and travesty that our taxes are being used to shore up the bastions of a dinosaur industries.

I talked about this with John Elkington last week while we were at the b4esummit in Paris. John has worked for many years through his firm SustainAbility to advise many of those current incumbents on how to shift to sustainable business models. I guess now John thinks that the time has come for new younger, more innovative models and enterprises to take over. His report is full of great insights into what makes a Phoenix Enterprise and Economy tick.

I wrote a similar report called Hope and Glory with my friend John Grant a while ago which looked at the sorts of new models that are emerging. Joel Makower says in Hope and Glory “Most major technologies – PCs, cell phones, software, the Internet, solar energy, etc. – have come from smaller, entrepreneurial players, which are then gobbled up by bigger fish that have the ability to achieve economies of scale and commercialize them to the masses. (Understanding) how this has happened in the past, it makes it much more credible looking forward.”

Some of the current mega-corporations might be nimble and be able to learn how to innovate in this way. But as Amory Lovins has always said – it won’t be Detroit (with its 1m+ model-runs and steel-fixation) that makes the hyper-car. These are based on electronics and composites so it’s more likely to be a computer company. The gauntlet is now thrown down for our companies – innovate around real needs and means – or burn in the flames.

In Hope and Glory we quoted this powerful piece from Brutus to Cassius in Julius Caesar which sums up so well the opportunity we have to confront threats like climate change with speed and innovation – and the risk of missing the tide.

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

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