Making Your Company a Sustainability Rock Star
STORY INLINE POST
Sustainability has a big component of common sense. Maybe we can even dare to say that 70% of sustainability is common sense, and 30% should be a mix of imagination, wit, and making good inventories.
Making good inventories. What has your company done related to sustainability? Surely there were at least things like a communication campaign back in 2016, a green product line in 2019, a couple of clean energy initiatives, some tree-planting efforts here and there, and a lot of meetings that led to those things. Start by making an inventory of what you have. This list will help you make an honest assessment of where your company is standing in terms of positive environmental impact, the organization’s culture around the environment, and perhaps more important, the hidden jewels and low-hanging fruit.
You surely have talent in your company that can lead sustainability task forces. You may have very committed activists among your ranks, people who have valuable know-how, practical experience, people who will respond well to your green projects and who are passionate about nature. Harness that energy.
You surely can find minutes from meetings where amazing proposals were discussed, where the company’s environmental opportunity areas were made evident, where communication crises about the company’s impact on nature were addressed. Dig into that. Use that. Perhaps you won’t need to reinvent the wheel: When it comes to setting the ground for innovation on sustainability, inventories are your best ally.
Wit. Once you know what you have, it is time for you to identify the shortest way from A to B. Start simple, start grounded. You will have time to aim for the stars, but at the beginning, you should find ways to get the maximum positive impact with the minimum possible effort. This does not mean cheating, this means being efficient in the allocation of resources to try and solve sustainability issues. Why? Because if you were able to solve an energy efficiency issue in your offices merely by rescheduling and reorganizing some things here and there, you will have early success with a compelling narrative: “We know how to scale up now without hurting the budget.” Sometimes, of course, the right path will not be the short one. Maybe you need to change aspects of the organization’s culture, but even that can start by changing one or two habits among the core areas. You don’t need to start a new world revolution every month. But wit will only get you so far; once you have conquered some early victories, you will need to start thinking big.
Imagination. Oscar Wilde said that imagination is the first of all pleasures. Napoleon said that the world is ruled by imagination. Both were right. Get yourself a hot coffee and something sweet and imagine what should be the flagship sustainability project in your company. Get wild. Immerse yourself in the pleasure of daydreaming. Then edit your idea and try to explain it in the shortest possible way. Make sure it is comprehensible to just about anyone. Then edit it over and over again until you feel it is ready. Iterate a small part of it, and if needed, go back to the drawing board.
A hint: a flagship sustainability project for a modern company should be inspiring, challenging, and practical. Inspiring because you need to get your team on board, and because the quest for a cleaner, more sustainable workspace should be carried out with enough enthusiasm for it not to collapse on the second day. Challenging because the process is meant to help your company and brand grow and evolve: it has to help you get better at what you do, it has to push your comfort zone (the business-killer comfort zone). Practical, because it has to solve things, improve things or compensate for things: it has to be practical in order to be sustainable. Practicality is a matter of common sense.
Common sense. Well, here is 70% of the stuff. Sustainability is indeed about common sense. We cannot be irrational in the use of resources or in our relation with the natural world for much longer. We are late in the solutions to all the major environmental problems, and yes, your company has a role to play in those solutions. Imagination, wit, and good inventories on previous solutions and available capabilities will set you on the right path, but good implementation of your flagship sustainability project will be necessary with a good deal of common sense so you can learn and improve the project along the way.
Are you ready to start transforming your company into a sustainability leader in your industry?