Sustainable Prosperity: From Responsibility to Strategic Advantage

Company leaders are realizing that being more sustainable isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good for business.  Those who have been operating sustainably for longer periods of time were 50% more likely than the newcomers to say their efforts contribute to profitability.  In reality, responsibility will create a strategic advantage yielding sustainable prosperity if the correct steps are taken.  A 2012 MIT Sloan Management Review report on sustainability revealed some interesting findings:

  • “70% of companies have placed sustainability permanently on their management agendas.”
  • "2/3 believe sustainability is necessary to be competitive in today’s market.” (2010 was 55%)
  • "Many increasing sustainability commitment, despite a down economy.”
  • “Nearly 1/3 say sustainability contributes to their profitability.”

 

“Sustainability is key to Nike’s growth and innovation.  Making our business more sustainable benefits our consumers who expect products and experiences with low environmental impact, contract factory workers who will gain from more sustainable manufacturing and our employees and shareholders who will be rewarded by a company that is prepared for the future.” President and CEO of Nike, Mark Parker (BusinessWire, 2010)

“In addition to the more traditional ‘socially responsible investors,” we are finding that some of our mainstream investors are now looking at sustainability performance as an indicator of overall business value.  They’re acting on the theory that our sustainability measures-our efficiency with resources, our employee retention, etc. –are predictors of overall business profitability.” Roberta Bowman, SVP and CSO of Duke Energy. (Hopkins, January 18, 2011)

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion among peers at the Association for Strategic Planning to present practical steps companies can take in creating sustainable prosperity.  Examples highlighted during the presentation illustrated how companies are profiting by moving from being responsible to integrating sustainability into their strategy, culture and business model.  Making sustainability an integral part of your business requires several key steps:

  1. Change perspectives: Operating differently requires first thinking differently about your business.

  2. Redefine vision: Engage others to redefine your company’s vision to move to a more sustainable future.

  3. Set new strategic direction: Create new strategies to take your business to the next level.

  4. Transform culture: Build on the strengths of your current culture and align it with your new vision and strategy.

  5. Lead, engage and align: Develop leadership at all levels, engage stakeholders in and out of the organization and align your management practices and business model.

  6. Measure impact: Measure results along the way and recalibrate and raise the bar as you go. 

Strategic Imperatives can help your organization navigate the current landscape of catalytic change, redefine your vision and strategy, engage stakeholders and develop leaders to take your company to sustainable prosperity.

“Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion.” Christian Friedrich Hebbel

Sources:

Group, M. &. (Winter 2012). MIT Sloan Management Review. North Hollywood: MIT.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100122005661/en/Nike-Outlines-Global-Strategy-Creating-Sustainable-Business Group, M. &. (Winter 2012). MIT Sloan Management Review. North Hollywood: MIT.

Hopkins, R. B. "What's Your Company's Sustainability Filter? Cambridge: MIT Sloan Management Review. (January 18, 2011)

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Company leaders are realizing that being more sustainable isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good for business. Those who have been operating sustainably for longer periods of time were 50% more likely than the newcomers to say their efforts contribute to profitability. In reality, responsibility will create a strategic advantage yielding sustainable prosperity if the correct steps are taken. A 2012 MIT Sloan Management Review report on sustainability revealed some interesting findings:

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