Are We at a Tipping Point?

May 25 • Featured II, Social • 19357 Views • No Comments

I am a Malcolm Gladwell fan. I have read all of his books, and one of his best is The Tipping Point. He usesthe book as a premise to describe a variety of disparate activities which have one thing in common: There comes a point in development where a critical mass is reached and all related activities accelerate toward a desired (or unintended!) consequence. The way he describes it on his website is:

“It’s that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics.”

This principle works in socioeconomic situations, scientific and medical realms, and in business. For me, I am still asking the question: Are we finally reaching a tipping point for organizations to embrace sustainable operations, where it will spread like an “infectious social disease” across the globe?

I wish I were clairvoyant. I could look ahead and know for a fact. There is as much information saying we are, as there is saying we are not. For example, I just read a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group for MIT, called “Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point.” It was published in the Winter 2012 issue of MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW. The article focuses on the results of an annual survey conducted by BCG to 4000 executives, plus additional academics and SMEs from a variety of industrial sectors around the world. Those surveyed were asked about sustainability activities of their companies.  The results of the survey were presented at the World Economic Forum in 2011.

The conclusions seemed clear: the trend was accelerating, with more companies altering their view of long-term economic sustainability, embracing the social and environmental values as part of that definition. In fact, 49.6% and 50% of the respondents say their companies are embracing environmental and social criteria, respectively, in their new formulas for corporate sustainability. The trend is in that direction, no doubt, and we are getting to the point where we are going to see an acceleration of change. I don’t know when it will be, but I feel that it is coming soon—very soon.

What do you think? What are you experiencing?


Image credit: twenty_questions/Flickr

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