Book of the Day: Mid-Course Correction Revisited

The Story and Legacy of a Radical Industrialist and his Quest for Authentic Change

By Ray Anderson and John A. Lanier: The original Mid-Course Correction, published 20 years ago, became a classic in the sustainability field. It put forth a new vision for what its author, Ray C. Anderson, called the “prototypical company of the 21st century”—a restorative company that does no harm to society or the environment. In it Anderson recounts his eureka moment as founder and leader of Interface, Inc., one of the world’s largest carpet and flooring companies, and one that was doing business in all the usual ways. Bit by bit, he began learning how much environmental destruction companies like his had caused, prompting him to make a radical change. Mid-Course Correction not only outlined what eco-centered leadership looks like, it also mapped out a specific set of goals for Anderson’s company to eliminate its environmental footprint.

Those goals remain visionary even today, and this second edition delves into how Interface worked toward making them a reality, birthing one of the most innovative and successful corporate sustainability efforts in the world. The new edition also explores why we need to create not only prototypical companies, but also the prototypical economy of the twenty-first century. As our global economy shifts toward sustainability, challenges like building the circular economy and reversing global warming present tremendous opportunities for business and industry. Mid-Course Correction Revisted contains a new foreword by Paul Hawken, several new chapters by Ray C. Anderson Foundation executive director John A. Lanier, and interviews with Janine Benyus, Joel Makower, Andrew Winston, Ellen MacArthur and other leaders in green enterprise, the circular economy, and biomimicry.

A wide range of business readers—from sustainability professionals to green entrepreneurs to CEOs—will find both wise advice and concrete examples in this new look at a master in corporate and environmental leadership, and the legacy he left.

Reviews and Praise

  • “Unlike most business leaders for whom ‘the business case for sustainability’ is all that really matters, Ray Anderson unapologetically advanced a moral case as well, constantly focused on our duty to future generations. This is more important today than ever before, as we come to recognize that an incremental, softly-softly approach to corporate sustainability is pretty much a busted flush—we’ve simply run out of time. The Interface story is as inspirational today as ever, but it needs to be read for its deeper, radical reckoning: If not now, when? If not you, who?”—Jonathon Porritt, founder and director, Forum for the Future; author of The World We Made
  • “I’m so glad Ray Anderson’s story is getting another telling—few sagas are more inspiring or more timely. We desperately need more and more people following in his footsteps with the same blend of humility and determination!”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter
  • “Twenty years after its first edition, there is still so much for us to harvest and learn from Mid-Course Correction. When it came to the precariousness of our shared future, Ray Anderson was both impatient and relentless in fighting for a world of beauty, abundance, justice, and fairness. When Ray asked me to join the Interface board, his exact words were, ‘Come help me change the world!’ Those words stayed with me throughout my seventeen years working with him. This twenty-year update provides the perfect guide for others to join in climbing Mt. Sustainability, the most critical mission of our time.”—Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, CEO, Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
  • “So far, Ray C. Anderson is the twenty-first century’s undisputed master of making business a potent force for saving people and the planet. As his winning carpet and textile firm, Interface, now wrings out the last few percent of its fossil-fuel use, his bold strategy—take nothing, waste nothing, do no harm, do very well by doing good—inspires visionary leaders everywhere. This valuable update, with additions from his grandson, John Lanier, maps out necessary next steps.”—Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chief scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute; author of Reinventing Fire
  • “Twenty-one years ago my friend Ray Anderson brought an engineer’s insight, a businessman’s rigor, a grandfather’s love, and a poet’s heart to what he called ‘the creative act of business.’ He challenged his company to ‘first to attain sustainability and then to become restorative,’ reminding all who would listen that ‘if your sustainability program is costing you money, you’re doing it wrong.’ And in this book and in his countless speeches—with a vision as clear as any since, to our peril and shame, and with a roadmap still valid—he challenged us all to do the same.”—Gil Friend, CEO, Natural Logic, Inc.; founder, Critical Path Capital
  • “Ray Anderson was one of the most extraordinary business leaders I ever met—and I have met and worked with scores. He was extraordinary in his early embrace of the sustainability agenda, years before most of his peers were even aware of the term. And he was extraordinary in his willingness to admit he had got parts of his response wrong, which is the remarkable tale brought bang up to date in Mid-Course Correction Revisited. Highly recommended for anyone wanting leadership in these challenging times.”—John Elkington, founder and chief pollinator, Volans; originator of the Triple Bottom Line
  • “When I began my personal journey from a traditional business career to this world of ‘sustainability,’ Ray Anderson’s Mid-Course Correction was the first book I read. I felt the same ‘spear in the chest’ that Ray described, and so I followed his intellectual path of discovery. I am indebted to Ray’s legacy, and I know it is long past time to revisit his work. The global challenges we face are more daunting than ever, so the imperative Ray described has only gotten more urgent. We must convert ‘business as usual’ from an obsession with short-term profits to a relentless focus on using business to build a thriving world. Ray saw it clearly years before almost everyone, and it’s a critical time to bring his vision to a new generation of business leaders.”—Andrew Winston, founder, Winston Eco-Strategies; author of The Big Pivot and coauthor of Green to Gold

About The Author

Ray C. Andersonwas founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., one of the world’s leading carpet and flooring producers. His story is now legend: Ray had a “spear in the chest” epiphany when he first read Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, inspiring him to revolutionize his business in pursuit of environmental sustainability. In doing so Ray proved that business can indeed “do well by doing good.” His Georgia-based company has been ranked number one in a GlobeScan survey of sustainability experts, and it has continued to be an environmental leader even after Ray’s death in 2011. Ray authored the 1998 classic Mid-Course Correction, which chronicled his epiphany, as well as a later book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist. He became an unlikely screen hero in the 2003 Canadian documentary The Corporation, and was named one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2007. He served as cochairman of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and as an architect of the Presidential Climate Action Plan, a 100-day action plan on climate that was presented to the Obama Administration.

Connect with this author

Interviews and Articles

Author Videos

About John A. Lanier

John A. Lanier joined the Ray C. Anderson Foundation as executive director in May 2013 to advance the legacy of Ray, his grandfather. He is chair of the board of directors for Southface Energy Institute, the southeast’s nonprofit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces, and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance. Previously, Lanier was an associate attorney with Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan, LLP (now Eversheds Sutherland), specializing in US federal taxation. Lanier earned his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law, and he holds bachelor of arts degrees in history and economics from the University of Virginia. He blogs regularly and his TEDx can be viewed on YouTube.

The copy in the post is reprinted from chelseagreen. You can find the original post here. The video is reposted from the YouTube channel of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.