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Backcasting from the future

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Also to see where the true polarities exist, that are based on a different set of values.

And so to that end the similarities are profound, between large businesses and municipalities.

Pique: There is a lot of emphasis on the individual within the Natural Step. You mentioned that you have never met "Electorlux" or "Ikea." Is it all about individuals stepping forth and making change?

K-H R: That’s right. Individuals very often gather and some time top management have it all right, all of them, and that gives the impression that the whole company is moving in that direction. And then it is perceived as a good company. But it is those good people there, enforcing everything, being creative, selling the message of sustainability in a way that others want to follow – good leadership.

And then they get aggressively purchased by another company, or the CEO becomes the CEO of another company. It’s always at risk, always vulnerable.

Previously I took it personally. I felt like Ikea was my baby, in a way. And then any failure or drawback or stumbling block I took personally – until I realized that it’s people.

For instance when we started to train Scandic Hotels, which is one of the largest hotel chains in Sweden, and all of northern Europe by the way, because they’re all over the place. (They were) at the level where they were on the edge of bankruptcy. They didn’t have any core values, they had nothing.

So the board fired the whole management team and brought in another one. And they started to work with us right away, to build up core values, create a language which was the same for everybody, and got such a strong team that they converted the company to the most successful hotel company in that region of the world.

Last year they were purchased by Hilton, and the old management team of Scandic vanished. And now they are trying to make Hilton absorb Scandic’s sustainability standards globally, but we don’t know. So now it can go either way.

A few years ago I would have been shocked, but now I don’t take it so personally because the CEO of Scandic and those others, they haven’t died.

When the top management of Electrolux left for Volvo it really started a slow decline in perception, which is steady in Electrolux but it’s growing in Volvo.

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