Awhile ago I attended a presentation by Daniel Esty, co-author of the book “Green to Gold”. It was fascinating on several levels, in particular in his emphasis on long-term systems thinking for those seeking to take advantage of green business mainstreaming.
Esty told a story from his days as an EPA administrator, helping to create the Clean Air Act. He spent thousands of hours engaged with the best and brightest from government and industry on the minutia, technology and theory of how to improve air quality. In all that time and exchange, nobody ever made the connection to what ultimately was the biggest single factor in improved air quality – the deregulation of railroads.
It seems that with all of the debated smokestack scrubbers and pollution controls installed, the biggest impact came from the economic viability of railroads delivering cleaner, low-sulfur coal from the mid-west’s Wind River basin to the coal-fired power plants in the east.
The biggest influence but totally unforeseen.
Two things struck me about this story. First, expand what you include in your “system” to achieve breakthrough thinking. Second, you are on the right track when you see positive benefits from unforeseen results.
None of this happens without our action and intent to improve but every "improvement" has potential to unintended negative side effects as well. Still, what we have to hope for are those best results you didn’t see coming.
That's why this whole cloud thing is so very interesting.
We should expect the unexpected.