Suppose your company launches several sustainability initiatives and then the sponsoring executives move to another company. The replacement executives are new to “sustainability” and push back, saying “Tell me again why we should bother with all this environmental and social stuff?” When executives ask that overarching “Why” question, they seek answers to the Big 3 “Whys” for any value proposition, especially sustainability initiatives.
“Is it the right thing to do?”
“Is it the financially rewarding thing to do?”
“Will bad things happen if we don’t do it?”
A simple “Yes” to those questions may need a detailed cost-benefit analysis to back it up. Specifically, answers to the Ultimate 10 “Whys” may be necessary.
• Purpose activation: Will our company purpose, mission, and values be achieved if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Revenue growth: How much will our revenue grow if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Expense savings: How much will our carbon, energy, materials, water, waste, and other expenses be reduced if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Employee hiring and retention savings: How will employee hiring and retention expenses be reduced if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Employee productivity and engagement: How will employee productivity and engagement be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Bottom-line profit improvement: How much will our profit improve if we improve our sustainability performance?
• ROI strength: Will the ROI meet our normal hurdle rate and payback period norms and by compelling enough to choose the sustainability initiatives ahead of other projects?1
• Balance sheet strength: Will the company balance sheet be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Stock market performance: Will company market valuation be improved if we improve our sustainability performance?
• Risk avoidance: What will the financial risks will we incur if we don’t improve our sustainability performance?
The middle eight questions help answer the second Big 3 “Whys:” “Is it the financially rewarding thing to do?” Although answers to all the questions may not be necessary, sustainability champions need a resource that could do that, just in case. They need a calculator that does a monetized assessment of all potential tangible and intangible benefit areas – the Ultimate 10 “Whys”– for any sustainability initiative. That is what the my next book will do.
In my last two blogs, I previewed that book. Its working title was “The Ultimate Sustainability Advantage.” It has a new working title: “Sustainability Advantage UltBook: The Ultimate Workbook for Sustainability Initiatives’ Potential Benefits.” “UltBook” feels more catchy. It is the same Excel e-book, with a fun new title.
In my last blog, I invited feedback on a draft of the UltBook. Many of you kindly provided very helpful suggestions on how to improve its context, flow, and usability. I would value feedback on the revised draft. It is downloadable from Box.com. As before, please use this brief survey to submit your ideas. With your help, it just keeps getting better …