Global CIO: CEOs Who Don't Bleed Green Must Go, Says Forrester - InformationWeek

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Commentary
9/8/2010
05:43 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: CEOs Who Don't Bleed Green Must Go, Says Forrester

The 71% of CEOs who are more concerned with their company's financial health than with "the environment" should be fired, says a Forrester senior VP.

Each of us views the world at hand through his or her own particular lens. And while that lens can be a huge benefit in helping us focus rigorously on our areas of special interest and see things non-specialists can't, it can also cause some serious Coke-bottle-bottom distortions when we attempt to discern the world at large through lenses not intended for that broader purpose.

Sports commentators like to begin their painfully obvious remarks with the opener, "As a coach," because they hope that gives them some sort of exalted insight and authority (and it does not). My friend JD the CFO delights in saying that a dollar's a dollar, but I, not being an accountant, can't grasp the inner profundity. Ask a fibre-channel specialist about possible alternatives to his beloved technology and his reply will be laced with words that are illegal in some states.

In general, I think this vast range of perspectives and POVs is a delight, and is usually one of those things that make life endlessly interesting. But sometimes, we can take these personal passions too far and they cross over from the realm of the advocate into the realm of the absurd.

A rather cloying example of that appears in a recent blog post from Forrester Research senior VP and research director Christopher Mines, whose broad responsibility is "advising tech industry Vendor Strategy professionals" but whose current focus is on sustainability initiatives and corporate environmental responsibility.

Hey, those are wonderful areas: improved sustainability strategies, when interlaced properly with business objectives, can lead to impressive gains in productivity, profits, and even revenue. And the same with corporate environmental responsibility: when applied appropriately in the service of the business and its customers and employees and shareholders, it's great.

Only a certified jackass would be against such things.

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But the problem I have with Mines' approach—at least as expressed in a bylined article with his name at the top—is that his uncompromising zeal for "the environment" above all other issues runs counter to the realities that his clients, and the customers of his clients, are facing in today's brutal economy. CEOs, as well as consumers, are today challenged by a slew of immediate and urgent and unrelenting challenges: widespread economic retrenching due to uncertainty over near-term changes in tax policy; the specter of increased and expensive regulatory mandates; high unemployment; tight credit; diminished discretionary income; crippling national debts in many countries around the world; and more.

In his Sept. 7 blog post, headlined "What Can Executives Learn from IBM's CEO Survey" on the "GreenBiz.com" website, Mines wrote the following:

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