Article - Issue 10, November 2001

Towards sustainable growth

K.G. Adams, CVO, CBE, Honorary Industry Fellow, Comino Foundation W.E. Duckworth, OBE FREng, Trustee, Comino Foundation

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Dear Sir,

Towards Sustainable Growth

Meredith Thring’s remarks always merit comment and his latest missive in the August issue of Ingenia is no exception. He points out, as have many others, that we cannot forever keep on acquiring ‘stuff’ and consuming energy.

Growth markets no longer lie in producing more energy-consuming and polluting physical products, but in gratifying our less material wishes. To some extent this is already occurring. Martin Hayward of the Henley Centre pointed to this in an article in the June 2001 issue of the Director, the magazine of the Institute of Directors, when he drew attention to a search for satisfaction in new consumer areas being potentially a precursor to a post-materialist swing. In support, he mentioned a recent book by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, called the Experience Economy.

While Meredith Thring’s doom scenario is very relevant, it does not of itself motivate business in a positive direction. It implies that it should contract, not expand its activities, and so inspires little response. The Comino Foundation, whose purpose is to help people live fulfilled lives within a prosperous and responsible society, is considering a campaign to persuade business in Britain to recognise that the great growth markets in the developed world are now in the areas of intellectual, aesthetic, spiritual, physical and social delight, which are not highly consumptive of material or energy.

Peter Drucker in The Practice of Management describes the purpose of business as being to create a customer. We intend to try to persuade business to create more customers who seek personal fulfillment in low-materialistic pursuits and eschew the accumulation of ‘stuff’, so hindering the progress to Professor Thring’s apocalypse. This topic would merit wider consideration in a future issue of Ingenia.

Yours faithfully

K.G. Adams CVO CBE

Honorary Industry Fellow, Comino Foundation

W.E. Duckworth OBE FREng

Trustee, Comino Foundation

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