Building Competitive Advantage in the 21st Century: Doing More With Less


Dr. Bruce Piasecki, the President and Founder of AHC Group, Inc. emphasizes frugality, CSR and the five pillars of AHC.

The future of the renewable energy industry is bleak, according to Dr. Bruce Piasecki, president and founder of AHC Group, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in energy, materials, and environmental corporate matters.  Currently, the renewable energy industry is small and fragmented.  Most oil and gas companies do not prioritize investments in renewable energy as its profitability is lower than traditional fuel systems. 


Nevertheless, energy is at the crux of sustainability. More and more new technologies, policies, and investments are shaping the energy industry—fuel cells, biofuels, wind power generation, thin-film photovoltaic power supplies, and bridge technologies like hybrid-electric engines. Piasecki remarked that the biggest hurdle the US faces in trying to implement large-scale renewable technology is the belief that the government must take the lead.  Although the private sector could be much more efficient at implementing this type of system, they have not.  At the moment, they are waiting for the government to offer them subsidies and tax breaks that they believe will make the renewable energy sector a profitable opportunity. According to Piasecki the industry simply needs one large oil company to reposition itself into an “energy” company to spark the industry into a new direction.


Piasecki is no stranger to the sustainability field.  He has authored several books on the topics of business strategy, valuation, and corporate change, including the Nature Society’s book of the year, “In Search of Environmental Excellence: Moving beyond Blame” as well as the recent New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller “Doing More with Less: The New Way to Wealth.” 


Sustainability and social responsibility of corporations is a priority for Piasecki.  According to him, the environmental challenges we now face require us to transfer from traditional capitalism to “social response capitalism.”  This is a term he coined referring to business innovation to address social needs. 


In his talk entitled “The AHC Group Vision of Corporate Sustainability,” Piasecki elaborated on key ideas in his book. The brilliance of “Doing More with Less” lies not in its statement of the novel and groundbreaking, but its statement recognizing society’s willingness to ignore critical issues.  He spoke about the necessity of frugality to achieve wealth; how to successfully run a business with corporate responsibility in mind; and the five pillars of AHC that they use with their clients in their consulting practice.


Stakeholder engagement, one of the AHC five pillars, is increasingly important in this era of access to information.  Stakeholders influence business strategy in every aspect. Organizations can no longer choose whether or not they want to engage with stakeholders instead their decision rests on when and how to successfully engage.  External groups can and will impact organizations, so companies must actively engage them otherwise they will demand inclusion. By increasing interaction between companies and stakeholders, a company can become more profitable and also more reputable.  Piasecki recommends companies shift to stakeholder value creation and sustainable enterprise by creating an “icon product,” an “integrity brand,” and aligning profit with people and the planet.


As a leader in the field of environmental management strategy, Dr. Piasecki’s advice is not just applicable to companies in the field of sustainability, but to all companies.  Companies that follow his advice will be well positioned to continue their success over the course of the next century.


Dr. Bruce Piasecki spoke at Johnson as part of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise lecture series, Leaders in Sustainable Global Enterprise in the fall of 2012.

Based on write ups provided by Scott Reid and Andrea Lawrence.