Daniel Goleman, the author of the best selling book Emotional Intelligence, has just published a fantastic new book called Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Changes Everything.
In this book, Goleman argues that markets are shifting towards something he calls “Radical Transparency” as consumers demand much more information on the products they buy everyday. With advances in global information systems, and in the science of measuring product impacts through tools such as Life Cycle Assessment, the public is finally beginning to be able to access comprehensive information on the trade-offs inherent in their purchasing decisions.
If we get better, more complete information about the true effects of an item at the moment we are deciding whether to buy it, we could make wiser decisions. Such full disclosure can make each of us an agent for small, gradual changes that, when multiplied by millions, will ripple through the industrial enterprise, from manufacturing and design, through supply chains and transport, to the distant ends of consumption.
In the New York Times earlier this week, Goleman and Greg Norris (one of GoodGuide’s advisors), published an op-art piece showing what this kind of transparency could tell you about your choice in bottles.
In the book, Goleman surveys a host of efforts to advance Ecological Intelligence, and he very generously concludes that:
“GoodGuide offers proof of concept, a concrete example of how radical transparency might work.”
While flattered, and very much aligned with this vision for providing the public much better information on products and companies, or own efforts to advance greater transparency are only just getting going. Fortunately, we are now part of a strong and growing ecosystem of organizations aligned for increased transparency and accountability in the marketplace. And more importantly, the public itself is driving this wave of interest in radical transparency.
Our job remains to listen to your needs and to get you better and better information to help you make decisions in your life. If Goleman is right, we will be busy for the coming decade!
If you want to learn more about the research behind the book, or to hear interviews delving into the issues covered in the book, including one with yours truly, check out the Ecological Awareness page at More Than Sound.