How our Success is Killing us by Matt Stratford

In this ProductTank London talk, Matt Stratford, Senior Product Manager at Elsevier, shares a reminder that the Earth cannot sustain the level of consumption our modern society has built. For the sake of the planet, Matt suggests “product management for good”.

Product managers are among the most entrepreneurial people in the world and embody the spirit of capitalism more perfectly than any other profession out there. Product management is fundamentally about growth: to build and sell more stuff, to more people, more often, for more money, more efficiently. At the same time, we observe that the ugly side of growth manifests itself with ever more pressing visibility in the world: resource depletion, rampant pollution, technological unemployment, global warming. Is there any way to square this circle and meet the gigantic challenges of our age?

There have been great accomplishments of human ingenuity for us to celebrate. We have raised the average life expectancy of our species, diminished the global levels of extreme poverty and trebled our productivity in a few short generations. Unfortunately, there are consequences to our actions that we must remember to account for. The longer we live and the wealthier we become, the more we demand and the more we consume.

If we can reframe the “more more more” ethos in product management and adapt to the “right” ethos, we can make big leaps in reducing our environmental impacts across the world. The window for planet-friendly personal acts, like Matt’s efforts to recycle his old Sharpies, has closed. It is time for big changes. We must sell the right things in the right ways with the right outcomes instead. This is product management for good. This is what we can agree, as business people, to stand up for and act upon.

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