A Factory Like a Forest: Interface and Biomimicry 3.8 Announce the Positive Performance Methodology

By: John A. Lanier

Ray Anderson and the people of Interface were pioneers in creating a model for corporate sustainability. We need corporations to go beyond that benchmark though, seeking ways to be regenerative enterprises. What might that framework look like? Interface and Biomimicry 3.8 have the answer, and it’s called the Positive Performance Methodology.

How do you keep climbing a mountain once you’ve reached the top? The answer is, “You don’t.” But I’m speaking metaphorically here, not literally, and the metaphor is one that has long been near and dear to my heart - climbing Mount Sustainability. That’s how Ray Anderson described Interface’s ambitious goal set in the 1990s. He called it a mountain higher than Everest, and only at the summit could a business claim to be truly sustainable.

From the beginning though, Ray knew that the summit of Mount Sustainability was a waypoint, not a finish line. Given the scale of environmental degradation, any business that becomes truly sustainable must keep going, working to become a regenerative enterprise. If sustainability is about doing no harm, regeneration is about doing good. A regenerative company is one that, by the very nature of how it operates, helps to heal and enrich both communities and the environment. In a sense, Mount Sustainability and its seven different fronts were the framework for how any business can pursue sustainability. But what about a corresponding framework for a regenerative enterprise? What might that look like?


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