Wayne Visser, Sustainable Frontiers: Unlocking Change through Business, Leadership and Innovation (Greenleaf Publishing, 2015)

by Eduardo Sasso
Jun 16, 2015 1:30 PM ET


“A picture held us captive” said Ludwig Wittgenstein. “And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.”

Aware that the sustainability movement might be in danger of extinction as it remains largely co-opted by outmoded paradigms, founder of CSR International, Wayne Visser, sets himself to the task of rescuing business from an obsolete image – one painted in the name of endless extraction and one-dimensional short-termism. At the heart of his endeavour is presenting an alternative (and rather vivid) picture of what the business community should strive for.

With ringing clarity and customary depth, Visser brings his multiple publications into dialogue with inspiring case studies, contemporary reports, and range of quite unconventional voices (unconventional, at least, for the business person who has taken for granted the modern workplace and economy, which, he affirms, “is devoid of a soul”). Written by a vivid story-teller, the book blends insights ranging from Jan Smuts’ work on holism, to Victor Frankl’s post-Holocaust reflections, to Anita Roddick’s legacy embedded in The Body Shop’s Values Reporting. After revealing some illusions and shortcomings of the much-celebrated shared-value model, and by proposing what he coins “integrated value”, Visser sets himself to the task of blurring boundaries between philosophy, business, systems thinking, and spiritual ecology, among others. The time is ripe for business to transcend utilitarian measures of self-interest, to become, instead, an entity at the genuine service of socio-ecological wellbeing. “Co-operative advantage”, “survival of the wholest”, and “Net Value Footprinting” are but a few of his championed suggestions.

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After obtaining an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies which launched him to explore the overlap between business, social imaginaries and spiritual ecology, Eduardo Sasso has been working in Vancouver, Canada as a process engineer and business consultant. He journeys with organizations, inspiring and enabling them to embed more sustainable strategies and practices.