Dancing with the Tiger

Learning Sustainability Step by Natural Step

Book: Dancing with the Tiger - Learning Sustainability Step by Natural Step, by Brian Nattrass and Mary AltomareThis book provides both inspiration and a road map for leaders and change agents in today’s complex organizations seeking to engage in more sustainable and responsible business practices, while at the same time driving innovation and business success. Like a complex and intricate form of dance, the practice of corporate responsibility and sustainability is as much an art as it is a science. It is the human factor that stands between the unsustainable trajectory of the present and a future sustainable world, not just the science, engineering or technology. It is only through people that the innovations of greater sustainability and responsibility will be diffused and adopted within our corporations, our governments, and ultimately throughout our world.

Following on the international success of The Natural Step for Business, Dancing with the Tiger takes a deeper look into the stories of highly successful organizations, including Starbucks and Nike, and the leaders and change agents within them who are mastering the choreography of sustainability in order to keep their high performance edge.

Purchase this book from: amazon.com | New Society publishers

What people are saying about Dancing with the Tiger


"Dancing with the Tiger" accurately captures some of the complexity and challenge faced by Nike as a global brand in our attempts to ‘do the right thing’ in the interests of all our stakeholders. Nattrass and Altomare have had inside seats at Nike as we move ahead step by step on our own path of corporate responsibility. This book is filled with valuable advice from the corporate players themselves who are daily in the global high-stakes game called sustainability. I highly recommend it."
Maria Eitel, Vice President and Senior Advisor for Corporate Responsibility, Nike Inc.


"Nattrass and Altomare have departed (thank goodness!) from the usual formulaic and technical books about sustainability and have given us a readable, heartfelt look into the hearts and souls of the organizations they portray. . . Unlike many other similar books that picture a small sense of past accomplishment, this one left me with a wonderful sense of what is to come in the future from these ad other like-minded players."
John R. Ehrenfeld, Executive Director, International Society of Industrial Ecology,
Director Emeritus, MIT Technology, Business and Environment Program


"Nattrass and Altomare have written a gem of a book. They make it clear that corporate sustainability is less about formal planning and more about choreographing the ‘dance’ of change; less about central control and more about personal conviction and commitment; less about technology and more about evolving a new organizational and societal story. The discipline of The Natural Step framework has been turned into a full-fledged dance. A must read for any manager serious about moving his or her company toward sustainability."
Professor Stuart Hart, Director, Center for Sustainable Enterprise, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"In exploring the metaphor of the dance of sustainability, Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare provide an engaging, practical guide for those wanting ot move in tune with the emerging rhythms of 21st century business."
John Elkington, Chairman, SustainAbility Ltd. and author of Cannibals with Forks and The Chrysalis Economy.


The challenge for companies in a leadership position to integrate sustainable business practices is enormous and critical. Dancing with the Tiger provides a candid assessment of this challenge and will inspire further innovation in this essential area of business strategy.
Orin C. Smith
President and CEO
Starbucks Coffee Company
Business is the economic engine of our global society and empowers construction as well as destruction. It is a myth that companies are either entirely good or bad. There are only people, and in ALL companies there are bold change agents who take risks by dancing with the power in order to change its direction. Dancing with the Tiger is the deeply meaningful story of these people and the undeniable dynamics of change they are leading towards greater corporate responsibility and sustainability. We are all dependent on their success and there is no other way but to learn from them. I highly recommend this book for its many lessons, insights, and wisdom.
Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Founder and Chair, The Natural Step


"Here, finally, are the personal stories of change agents in the sustainability movement—people inventing more restorative and equitable ways of making a living in place. The oral tradition captured so deftly in Dancing with the Tiger gives sustainability a human face, one in which we can recognize ourselves and the difference we might make. These wayfinders give us the greatest gift, of making the path seem possible. Cultural shifts begin with a buzz, and a buzz always begins with a good story. Pass this one on."
Janine M. Benyus, author of Biomimicry


"At this point the sustainability movement is just emerging. So as a community, to read and hear about others trying to find their way to becoming more sustainable is both inspiring and educational. One can only hope that Dancing with the Tiger will spread the work of the organizations written about so others will pick up the torch and follow."
Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, Resort Municipality of Whistler


"In Dancing with the Tiger" Brian and Mary have added a critically important chapter to the sustainability literature. The insights and wisdom described will be invaluable to readers seeking guidance to the challenges of corporate responsibility and sustainable development. Further, the questions and challenges posed will provide a basis for future work in this very urgent area of enquiry. Without a doubt, humankind is dramatically shaping its planetary future in unprecedented ways. We are now at a time of reckoning and all of us are challenged to take action. I sincerely hope that each of you who takes the time to read Dancing with the Tiger will personally take on this challenge and work aggressively within your family, community, and place of work to challenge others to take on this dance of change. Our common future depends upon it."
Nicholas B. Sonntag, President/Managing Director, CH2M-IDC China Ltd.
former Executive Director of the Stockholm Enviornment Institute



"How leadership companies integrate the sustainability framework and teachings of The Natural Step. Case studies feature Nike, Starbucks, CH2M Hill, Whistler resort, Norm Thompson, and others. Each details the challenges faced, the changes made, and the lessons learned. Nattrass and Altomare have probed deeper than usual into these companies, and the hard work pays off through candid and revealing (though largely glowing) portraits. The result of their labors helps model what sustainability looks like in real life."
Greenbiz.com


"Something profound is happening in the world as society awakens to a new mind-set and gradually discards the old mind-set. As acceptance of the reality of a finite Earth displaces the deep-rooted, but flawed, view of an infinite source and sink, to be taken for granted, humankind is gathering itself to move into a sustainable future. Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare have again chronicled early corporate movers, in this most instructive and encouraging account. Read it for knowledge and inspiration."
Ray C. Anderson, Founder and Chair, Interface, Inc.

"Imagine you’re trying to learn the Tango, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are your teachers. Reading Dancing with the Tiger will give you an equal level of grace and expertise if you’re on the journey of sustainability. Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare have written a common sense yet inspiring book that is based on true stories of real people and competitive corporations trying to master a new way of operating. Like the Tango, the steps and movements are not easy for new students, but the passionate beauty of the dance is worth the effort. CH2M HILL is proud to be part of this important book. We hope our story, as well as those of Nike, Starbucks and Whistler Resort, will help other companies and individuals. After all, if we are to survive, we must learn from each other."
Michael D. Kennedy, President, Regional Operations, CH2M HILL


"Once again, while dancing on the edge, the wings of angels brings us a voice of something reasonable. The change agents and visionaries of the real work are deservedly honored here. It is like Dancing with a Tiger. The practicality of making it real amidst the riotous scramble to stay the same is just the prescription for the next wave of making it up as we go along. They have perfected the art of storytelling as a metric. Whenever it appears dark on the edge of the next step, Brian and Mary graciously deliver another thought provoking, and more importantly, practical, set of answers to light the way."
Anita M. Burke, Senior Advisor – Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Shell Canada Limited


"This book provides important detail on how innovative firms create change that moves them towards the integration of social, environmental, and economic performance. As the book shows, through the lens of The Natural Step framework, executives and employees can understand the larger context for corporate action and craft practices appropriate to the company’s products and operations inside and throughout the supplier network. The accounts are valuable in their rich detail about the entrepreneurial individuals and their strategies within firms. Most importantly, the issues raised are important to the future of all companies. The innovations documented represent a wave of change in the business landscape as forward-thinking firms incorporate the new realities of global society and natural systems into operations and strategy. There is a paucity of information from inside the organization about these changes, thus the authors make an important contribution to our knowledge."
Andrea Larson, Associate Professor of Business Administration
Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia



"Read these most significant dance instructions for the 21st century—then practice. Packed with insights, how-to advice, and captivating stories, they may well spark the sustainability giant in you. Listen to the rhythms of the future and join the dance floor."
Mathis Wackernagel, co-author of Our Ecological Footprint and program director at Redefining Progress in California.


"As the need for responsible global action becomes painfully evident, and while governments are struggling to provide meaningful, concerted direction, it is hopeful that the business sector is demonstrating true leadership. Altomare and Nattrass have provided valuable case studies that should keep us all on task."
John R. Emrick, Chairman & CEO, Norm Thompson Outfitters


"Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare have a unique talent for describing the dire, global consequences of our unsustainable ways in a manner that spurs urgency, understanding, and action rather than guilt, denial and inertia. In Dancing with the Tiger, Nattrass and Altomare shine a bright but gentle light on some of the world’s leading examples of large, complex organizations experimenting with new, more sustainable ways of doing business. By extracting from these pioneering initiatives the most important lessons learned, the authors have made their own invaluable contribution to our journey toward sustainability. These crisply told stories of corporate courage are an invaluable source of ideas and insights for those of us already out there on the dance floor – and a rousing call to action for those still watching from the bleachers. Above all, Dancing with the Tiger, is a gift of inspiration. When I finished reading this book, I had a powerful urge to rush to my office and get back to work – even though it was well after 10 pm on a Saturday night!"
Steve Nicholas, Director, City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment


"Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare mix music with poetry, and all in the framework of the power of rewriting the stories of those uniquely human engines—corporations. But not any corporations. These are corporations peopled by otherwise ordinary people who also happen to have the vision to perceive that the ultimate success of what they are trying to do is directly related to their success in helping to maintain the integrity of the Earth’s ecological systems. The authors don’t gloss over the difficulties or failures, nor do they pretend that their examples are models of sustainable perfection. Rather they emphasize that the Earth has limits, and demonstrate through the stories in this book that learning to understand and then to live and function within those limits provides insurance against external ecological and resource instabilities—which translates to better business. Just as life is not an end, but rather a journey; so do the authors note that the joy in the dance for businesses is in the steps toward sustainability—the writing of the new stories to replace the outmoded old ones. And finally, what rings throughout this book is the power of the individual, translated to the power of the particular collections of individuals in the corporate examples they give, to make a difference through leading by example, with the wondrous natural physical and ecological systems of the Earth serving as the teachers. The reader of this book will come away better equipped to participate on this beautiful journey—and to be more successful in the process."
Donald W. Aitken, Former Senior Staff Scientist, the Union of Concerned Scientists

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