The Future of the Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 50 Years (Yvon Chouinard, Vincent Stanley)

i snarfed this down in a couple of hours on the plane. it’s no secret that i’m a bit of a fanboy. they seem to walk the walk and this was a remarkably compelling read in a few areas.

  • it’s a reasonably unsparing account of the stuff that Patagonia ran into while they were cleaning up their business. while it’s pretty clear they’re believers here, it’s quite candid on the things that did and didn’t work. they talk about their financial failures, the successes that they had and the frustrations that they had as they looked to transition to more ethically sourced materials and to be less wasteful in their business operations.
  • it lays out an ethos and a vision that, i think, more corporations should aspire to. Patagonia was fortunate in that it was largely privately held and the owners had a clear vision of what they thought was right.
  • it’s clear that many of the things they’ve been struggling with are the things that most good businesses will struggle with as a baseline. how to avoid cheap/lazy growth (which has clear limits in terms of eventual scale), how to retain high quality staff and talent. these are all problems/challenges which have some ethical component to them. they seem to have intoned that there’s value in looking at this through a lens of ethics and responsibility.

i found the checklists that they had at the back of the book surprisingly worth the read. honestly, i’ll commonly blow that sort of thing off and i read these to the end.