5. The Great Leap Downward

I still vividly recall the conversation that started it all. It was the fall of 1997, and I had recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that examined the opportunity for the corporate sector to profitably pursue strategies for a more sustainable world. Global poverty, rising inequity, and environmental degradation in the Third World led the list of problems to be solved. The article, “Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World,” went on to win the McKinsey Award as the best article in HBR that year. My mentor and strategy colleague at Michigan, C. K. Prahalad, had just completed a draft manuscript with Ken Lieberthal that would ultimately appear in HBR in 1998 as “The End of Corporate ...

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