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Can good business sense prevail? Let’s take a look…

October 31, 2012

Simon Robinson, a fellow colleague in the collaborative BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, had the opportunity recently to meet with Luís Norberto Paschoal, President of DPaschoal. DPaschoal is one of the largest auto repair organizations in Brazil, with more than 200 centres.  Auto repair business may not be cool or hip (like Patagonia with Fortune Magazine recently called them “the coolest company on the planet”); yet, where there’s business there’s opportunity for good business sense – let’s take a look at this organization on the journey to being a ‘firm of the future’.

Luís Norberto joined the company in 1963, and as he says in those days they did not have the term sustainability. Sustainability in the early days was only about the planet and not in the broader sense. Luís Norberto met many interesting people in the 1970s and 1980s who he discussed the real meaning of sustainability with. Luis says bluntly:

You don’t need to be afraid of being selfish. And you don’t have to be altruistic. Be selfish but think about the future. Think long term.

For Luís Norberto sustainability means four things. You have to be

  1. Economically sustainable (able to invest in the long term)
  2. Industrially sustainable (you have to be systemically sustainable      in relation to all your partners and industrial ecosystem)
  3. Marketing sustainable (avoiding green-wash marketing and being sure      about your promises)
  4. Ecologically sustainable (do not destroy the future to protect the      present, and do not destroy the present to protect the future)

Luís Norberto is very direct when he says that “tyres and shock absorbers are bad for the planet when you produce, bad for the planet when you transport, bad for the planet when you use, bad for the planet when you recycle. The whole chain is bad for the future.”

Many years ago he had to decide whether or not to carry on with the business. In the end he decided that if he does not continue the company, someone else will fill the gap and sell tyres, so why not do the best possible. And so the company has the philosophy of selling the customer a tyre only when it is really required, and not to try and sell tyres when the old tyres have plenty of life left in them.  Luis puts it simply by saying:

It is a crime to sell someone a new tyre 5000 miles before the right moment.

Yet this philosophy in business seems to fly in the face of the current prevailing approach and mindset in business today.  DPaschoal seeks to educate its employees so they can educate their customers and suppliers to encourage a healthy business ecosystem to thrive.

In a 2 day programme in a big fleet you can save 20% of the tyres. So for a big fleet which buys 1000 tyres a year, they can save 200. Only 10 basic elements can result in a saving of 20%, braking, pressure, alignment etc.

The DPaschoal ecosystem is a resilient one where all parts help sustain each other. This can only be achieved with a common purpose and a sense of human values which comprehends the need for both cooperation as well as competition. DPaschoal is not a rigid entity but a living organization with porous boundaries that sits in true relationship with suppliers, customers, employees, the wider community and the planet. The vision and mission are not merely window dressing, but sincerely held beliefs which are reflected in every aspect of the organization. “Not selling” is not a paradoxical state, but a long term strategy which develops loyal customers and assures the long term resilience and survival of the company. More recently, Patagonia has gained good profile in the market through their ‘not selling’ strategy, and while DPaschoal may not be the coolest company on the planet, it is one of the most authentic building resilience into its business through good business sense.

To explore ‘firms of the future’ and ‘business inspired by nature’ further, join the Face Book community here

For the full and Original post by Simon Robinson

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