The Sustainability-Focused Organization

In today's business environment, sustainability has never been more important.

In today's business environment, sustainability has never been more important. Yet research shows that most companies fail to execute successful sustainability strategies. Behind this abysmal track record lies the undeniable fact: many companies continue to use management processes - top-down, financially driven, and tactical - that were designed to run yesterday's organizations.

Here we introduce a revolutionary management tool called the Sustainability Scorecard that provides a new operating system that makes sustainability a continuous process owned not just by management, but by everyone.*

1. Translate Sustainability into Operational Terms

Sustainability Strategy must be to described and communicated in consistent, insightful operational terms. Organizations must provide on-going performance monitoring and navigational guidance to a myriad of diverse stakeholders.

Successful organizations use Sustainability Strategy Maps to describe and communicate sustainability and Sustainability Scorecards to provide on-going monitoring.

2. Align the Organization to Sustainability

Sustainability strategies only work if they are linked and integrated across many functions – finance, manufacturing, sales, marketing, budgeting, and so forth.  

The Sustainability Ontology quantitatively links these disparate and dispersed functions and activities. We assess the impact of each core activity on achieving true sustainability and determine the key pressure points...and how to measure their current performance.

3. Make Sustainability Everyone's Everyday Job

Successful organizations ensure that everyone gets sustainability education, cascades sustainability down to their team and individual responsibilities, and is acknowledged, rewarded and compensated on their adherence to and implementation of the organization’s sustainability strategies.

The Sustainability Scorecard cascades down to the individual, ensuring engagement, alignment, and performance.

4. Make Sustainability a Continual Process

Sustainability is not an end-of-year checklist… it is the day-to-day decisions made by your team. The impacts are felt instantly…not only at the end of the year in your risk reports, regulatory filings and sustainability reviews.

The Sustainability Scorecard links your sustainability activities to your budget, compensation, reporting, risk and Board processes.

5. Mobilize Sustainability through Executive Leadership

Through a method of mobilization, governance and strategic management, executives embed sustainability strategy and new culture into their management systems, creating a continual process to meet the strategic needs of today and tomorrow.

Think of implementing a new operating system – one where the organization is aligned, mobilized and individuals are empowered to create a sustainable organization.

They vision the super longer-term goals around true sustainability and then back-cast it to what needs to be done now, next, and later.

The benefits of being a Sustainability Focused Organization

*Note: The ideas presented here are our own, gleaned from our Sustainability clients, and those liberally reinterpreted from the works of Drs' Kaplan and Norton.

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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