The Sustainability Strategy Map (Part 1 of 2)

We now need to integrate this new best practice around measuring environmental and societal business impacts with the third "bottom-line"... business success. Best practices on measuring business success comes from the Balanced Scorecard body of knowledge. This article is the first step in that journey.

(The second part of this article is available here.)

Recent realities have made it abundantly clear to businesses that they have a key role to play in making the world sustainable- both environmental and societal sustainability. The "Triple Bottom Line" describes the need for businesses to achieve strategic success as well as these two broader goals.

Until recently measuring business's impacts on the environment and society has been elusive - accomplished by self-reporting and interviews (leading to "greenwashing" the results and eliminating any comparability between businesses). The Future-Fit Business Benchmark addresses this need with 21 measurable Sustainability Business Goals with specific measures and formulas.

We now need to integrate this new best-practice around measuring environmental and societal business impacts with the third "bottom-line"... business success. Best practices on measuring business success comes from the Balanced Scorecard body of knowledge. This article is the first step in that journey.

About the Future-Fit Business Benchmark

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark looks to find the new break-even point for every business. "A Future-Fit Business creates value while in no way undermining – and ideally increasing – the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever." Future-Fit maps into all the existing sustainability frameworks (B-Corp, UN-SDG, GRI, etc.), with the added advantages that it:

  • is based on 30 year's of sustainability science as codified in The Natural Step's "Framework for Sustainable Development"
  • focuses on business (not governments or broader society)
  • provides 21 specific goals
  • has quantifiable measures and formulas for each goal, and
  • therefore enables true benchmark capability across businesses

(Notes 1 and 2)

About the Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a business framework used for tracking and managing an organization’s strategy. The BSC framework is based on the balance between leading and lagging indicators, which can respectively be thought of as the drivers and outcomes of your company goals. When used in the Balanced Scorecard framework, these key indicators tell you whether or not you’re accomplishing your goals and whether you’re on the right track to accomplish future goals. (Note 3)

With a Balanced Scorecard, you have the capability to:

  • Describe your strategy.
  • Measure your strategy.
  • Track the actions you’re taking to improve upon your results.

Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map

One of the great tools introduced by the Balanced Scorecard is a strategy map - a cause-and-effect diagram that illustrate the relationship between an organization's key strategic goals. A Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map shows the strategic goals within the four balanced scorecard perspectives.

The Sustainability Strategy Map

For the Sustainability Strategy Map, we use the same four perspectives from the Balanced Scorecard (for the company goals) and add in the two additional "perspectives" - society and environment. They exist as columns down the right and left side as the company interacts with them across all four balanced scorecard perspectives.

The 21 Future-Fit Business Goals

The Future-Fit Business Benchmark defines 21 specific business goals. If we organize them on the strategy map according to their associated perspectives, it would look like this:

You can see that some, especially in the Customer/Environmental perspectives bridge between the two perspectives. We have shown these by putting them on the boarder between those perspectives.

Now what?

The next step is to test this model. We have several pilot sites from around the world committed to implementing the Sustainability Scorecard. We are going to begin using this Sustainability Strategy Map to capture their strategic & sustainability goals and begin measuring their performance!

Stay tuned for our updates...

Brett Knowles,


  1. Illustration from Bob Willard, Sustainability Advantage,
  2. The Future-Fit Business Benchmark is a free-to-use, open source tool that defines the ecological and social ‘break-even point’ for business, and equips companies to measure their progress toward it. The science underpinning the Benchmark was pioneered 30 years ago by The Natural Step, who have collaborated with Future-Fit Foundation on the development of the Benchmark since its inception.The Future-Fit Business Benchmark is supported by the Future-Fit Foundation,
  3. From Clearpoint Strategy, "What Is A Balanced Scorecard? (A Definition)"

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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