Once organizational strategies are already aligned with sustainable goals, sustainable development becomes much easier since every decision about better environmental, social, and financial performance is already supported at the highest levels of the organization. The very products, services, and events (and the infrastructure and platforms that support them) will already start to be reshaped in favor of sustainable goals. For example, if the strategies are set correctly, the projects that head for development should not only be more sustainable solutions (perhaps, focusing on cleaning rather than a particular cleaning product), but they should also automatically support the organization’s efforts to become more sustainable in a unified way. See Figure 16.3.
Once org... >
Still another valuable strategy for bringing sustainability into an organization is in terms of risk mitigation. Even when leaders and other stakeholder don’t understand or accept what they feel are “touchy-feely” values, most can imagine the costs associated with operational risk in policies and offerings. For example, many manufacturers have discovered the negative impact ill-defined or non-existent social policies with their labor can have on their brand and revenues. Even when a corporation’s policies are deemed acceptable to the public, if their products are created and serviced by subcontractors with unacceptable labor policies, they still risk the backlash... >
Where the culture of an organization isn’t quite ready to discuss sustainability purely in terms of environmental and social values (it’s likely that most organizations are already prepared to have a discussion about financial sustainability), there are several proxies that can stand in for them while they develop within the culture. For example, sustainability often aligns with the drive for efficiency, whether in terms of cost-reduction of enhancing performance and productivity.
This creates a great opportunity to create a sustainability agenda under the very real guise of efficiency and effectiveness.
Another approach might be on product or corporate brand differentiation... >
During the strategy-development process, it’s important to present scenarios and even proofs-of-concept that can embody opportunities in visual and visceral ways so that business leaders can understand and envision what they might be like. Here, too, designers and other developers can play an important role. While these examples are strictly prototypes (since they don’t actually work), they may be rigged to look quite real and work in limited ways, mimicking the key behaviors that would make them successful if created. In the development of services, it’s common to show the artifacts of the service through different points in the process, even if these are simple screens or paper output (such as a receipt showing a purchase or other transaction)... >
Conversations at this level about sustainability can open the door for strategic partnerships with other organizations, both for mutual support and for more successful implementation. Sometimes, this helps minimize risks of retaliation or ridicule (such as from issue-oriented NGOs and watchdogs). Other times, this can add or help develop important, sometimes expensive, new tools, materials, processes, or other solutions in order to speed the realization of better practices and offerings. Seemingly unlikely alliances are now commonplace (such as between Home Depot and the Forest Stewardship Council, or McDonald’s and PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). These alliances aren’t simply “cover” or validation for companies to dress themselves in more acceptable guise... >
It’s important to approach strategy from multidisciplinary perspectives. This is the biggest mistake that most leaders make. They feel that only they will truly understand the organization’s opportunities or that this information is so critical that it can’t be entrusted to many in the organization. The result is that leaders unintentionally misinform themselves about market, customer, and their own corporation’s requirements, and they fail to involve and inform the rest of the organization in details critical to supporting the decided strategies. So, as with the development process, it’s important to involve others in the organization that may know the requirements better and may see opportunities that leaders don’t... >
For the purposes of this book, I will be referring to a development process for strategic innovation, currently rising in popularity and combining many of the best elements of those from the past. Through it, it’s easy to point to where sustainable criteria can best intersect the development of sustainable strategies, as well as products and services.
The qualities of this process are shown in two groupings: the development of corporate strategy (deciding what the organization should produce and offer) and the development of offerings (how best to create and deliver the offerings that meet an organization’s strategic goals). See Figure 16.1.
It’s important to note that it is the combination of these two phases that is most powerful to integrate sustainability into an organizat... >
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here are several different development processes currently in use around the world. Depending on the industry and product or service, developers may use any of the following:
• “Waterfall:” A step-by-step, phased approach that finishes one phase before starting another. This often results in slower development but more complete specifications and more successful interfaces and solutions. This development, however, can lead to disconnection and compartmental – ization of teams and inefficient use of some resources while prior phases are being completed... >
The exact origin of the Precautionary Principle isn’t known, but it dates back to 1800s common law and in more specific forms, to the 1930s in German law. Recently, it has been adopted by many government, NGO, and business organizations as a way of considering the systems implications of actions and policies. The European Commission adopted it in 2000 as a way of evaluating policies against unknown future outcomes.
The purpose of the Precautionary Principle is to recognize the need to anticipate risks and consequences before policies are enacted (or changed). This, inherently, acknowledges responsibilities on the part of those developing, approving, or implementing policy to be sure that these policies do not cause harm to people, society, or the environment... >
One of the most successful ways to approach systems change is to start inside yourself and your organization. By understanding your own biases, preferences, values, and core meanings, you’re better able to relate to others. Likewise, by understanding the mission, culture, goals, and vision of your organizations, you’re better able to act on the values and core meanings that enable and support them. One good tool is to assess the values and core meanings for all key stakeholders, including customers, partners, competitors, and so on. This is especially true for the development team itself. When our values aren’t correctly engaged and supported, we can’t align our work to the biggest drivers within us. Finding overlap between customers, company, and team is most important... >