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Aron Cramer: The only way to have a truly successful enterprise in the 21st Century is to think about business as a steward of natural resources, an engine of innovation, and an institution that can help to build thriving communities. There’s huge business opportunities for companies that achieve that kind of vision for what business can do.  That’s the right direction for any company to head.

One of the most interesting stories of the last ten years is the turnaround of the largest company in the world—Walmart.

A company that not that long ago was considered to be on the wrong side of a lot of issues—environmental issues, labor issues, etc. But today, Walmart has made sustainability one of the central elements of their business strategy as they continue to grow.

As they like to put it, waste equals waste, so they’re relentlessly taking waste out of their system. Doing things ranging from creating new kinds of trucks that get products to the marketplace in a much more energy-efficient way, to changing the way their factories operate to radically reduce energy usage. 

Walmart is also stoking a great deal of collaboration, bringing together a lot of other very large businesses, along with NGOs to come up with solutions that they all create and they all share in to help deal with everything from the jewelry that’s sold in Walmart to finding more locally-sourced food that gets sold in Walmart.

This is a company that has become an immense catalyst of change using its market power to achieve social environmental purposes that we used to think were the responsibility of the government. But today, this very large retailer is trying to create an immense amount of change by looking at every single inch of its business and finding ways that it can be done more sustainably.

More from the Big Idea for Monday, October 22 2012

Today's Big Idea: Lean Thinking

Some of the simplest ideas can breathe new life into a company and lean thinking is one of them. Based on the model utilized by Toyota, companies of all sizes have optimized practices and technolo... Read More…

 

Walmart, Inc: Environmental...

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