I remember in the late 80's through early 2000's the complaints I would hear about "fads" in quality. TQM, ISO, Lean, Re-engineering... the list of buzzwords goes on and on. A funny thing happened on the way though. American quality has gotten significantly better over the last 25 years. The truth is, any given label might have been a fad, but the trend was (and still is) quality improvement in US manufacturing.
A fad has a relatively short term lifespan and may be vague. A trend last a long time. I remember when people thought jogging was a fad. Health consciousness is the trend.
The term "Green" is the current hot word for anything that may be or pretends to be environmentally friendly. But sustainability (defined as meeting today's needs without sacrificing the resources of future generations) is a trend. We are not acting sustainable now, but momentum is in place to drive forward putting the systems in place to become sustainable.
How do I know... some of the biggest companies in the world like Walmart and Proctor & Gamble are forcing their suppliers to create continuous improvement systems to become more sustainable. If you cant put a good sustainability management system in place, you lose Walmart or P&G as a customer. These players are just too big to ignore.
At the World Economic Forum the most discussed topic is sustainability. The top leaders know their businesses will die if they don't have clean water and breathable air. When the big boys lead the rest will follow because their pocket books depend on it.
One big hurdle for the laggards and haters will be putting sustainability management systems in place in their companies. I'll talk about what a sustainability management system is in a future post if you don't already know (hey, maybe it will be the next buzzword that people call a fad!).
Will there be resistance? You bet. Will people say it is a fad? Of course. Will new terminology replace the current language? Absolutely. But the trend is there. Get on board or get out of the way.