The situation is urgent. We need to accelerate corporate action on sustainability issues, especially on climate destabilization. So far, we have been ineffective in marshaling sufficient corporate leadership on impending social and environmental challenges. One reason is that sustainability champions have been ill-equipped to convince hard-nosed business executives that it is in their company’s interest to help. We need a more usable, complete, and compelling business case tool. My new book will will fill that need. My last blog, Coming Soon: “The Ultimate Sustainability Advantage Workbook,” provided three reasons why the “ultimate” descriptor is appropriate. Here is my 6-point publishing strategy for The Ultimate Sustainability Advantage Workbook to ensure that it is available to, and usable by, worldwide legions of sustainability champions by November.
- Packaged for ease of use. It will be published as a heavily-annotated, jazzed-up Excel e-workbook. The Ultimate Workbook will have enough explanatory notes throughout, plus context-setting Introduction and Conclusion worksheets, that the Excel workbook will not require a companion “normal” book to explain it — it will be the book. Just-in-time guidance in cell comments make the fill-in-the-blank-cells format easy to use, even for those with little business training. It’s a workbook designed to be used, more than just read.
- Instant worldwide distribution. Printed books are great but are sometimes difficult to access and expensive to ship. E-books are gaining in popularity. The Ultimate Workbook will only be available as a self-published e-book, cleverly disguised as an Excel file that will be downloadable from my web site. Anyone with a web browser can access it, anywhere. It will have instant worldwide distribution.
- The right price. There will be no price barrier to the Ultimate Workbook becoming the go-to tool in every sustainability champion’s toolkit. It will be free. Why? Time’s a wastin’. It would be a shame to look back ten years for now and wonder, “If this tool had been freely available to the sustainability champion community, might we have been able to rally global corporate support for what needed to be done, in time?” So it will be available for the no-regrets price of zero.
- Open-source starter set. The Ultimate Workbook will be published under the most liberal Creative Commons licence. The license gives anyone permission to use the Ultimate Workbook as a starter set for a tailored, enhanced business case workbook. Anyone can create industry specific versions, translate it into other languages, create software-as-a-service versions, write an app version for smartphones, and so on. They can brand their versions with their logos and even charge for them. I encourage them to do whatever it takes to help provide additional useful and relevant versions for sustainability champions everywhere. I will be happy to provide links on my website to such enhanced versions, if that would be helpful to their creators.
- Optional presentation support. Sustainability champions need to present the business case effectively. Sometimes they will require slides that add context and support for their assumptions used throughout the Ultimate Workbook. Currently many people subscribe to the Sustainability Advantage “Master Slide Set,” giving them access to a library of such slides that is updated quarterly. Its ready-to-use PowerPoint slides summarize the latest and greatest news about company sustainability initiatives and trends on sustainability issues. As of January 2017, the slide deck will be reorganized so that it better aligns with the flow of a typical presentation to executives on the business case for sustainability initiatives as outlined in the Ultimate Workbook.
- Optional business case enhancements. The free, first version of the Ultimate Workbook will be published in November and will always be available from the Sustainability Advantage website. Over time, it will be improved with more and better estimation guidance based on evolving best practices, research findings, and tips gleaned from users. Updated and enhanced versions of the Ultimate Workbook will be available to subscribers. That is, as of January 2017, subscribers to today’s “Master Slide Set” will also be able to access updated versions of the Ultimate Workbook which will appropriately incorporate news and findings that triggered new slides. As indicated above, the master slide deck will be reorganized around the business case framework used in the Ultimate Workbook, so they will be companion tools. The new name for the combined subscription will be “Ultimate Business Case and Slides – (date)” to reflect the new dual content. The annual subscription fee will remain at $39, even though subscribers will now receive updates to both the Master Slide Deck and the Ultimate Workbook. The updated versions of the business case can still be used as enhanced starter sets, as encouraged above.
My hope is that these resources will be fully exploited as catalysts to building a critical mass of leading companies who prosper through their sustainability efforts. Some people will subscribe so that they receive the updates to the business case – the slides will be a bonus. Some people will subscribe and use the slides updates as a way to stay current on the latest who / what / why / how news about sustainability efforts in the business community – the enhanced business case will be a bonus. And, as some people do today, some may subscribe as a creative way to crowdfund the ongoing work on all this – access to the updated slides and business case will be treated as useful “receipts” for their support, and they can record the subscription fee as a business expense. Whatever works.
The ultimate business case resource needs to be freely available to internal and external sustainability champions so that they can help decision-makers justify more proactive sustainability initiatives, quickly. The 6-point publishing strategy is designed to make that happen. I would value feedback on the planned publishing approach, as well as your thoughts on the content, usability, and look-and-feel of the current draft of The Ultimate Sustainability Advantage Workbook, downloadable from Box.com. Please use this brief survey to submit your ideas. Your suggestions will help ensure that the Ultimate Workbook is as “ultimate” as intended.