4 Reasons our Current Business Model is Unsustainable

Sooner or later, there is a tough message that sustainability champions need to deliver to harried business leaders—the business game they are playing can’t continue. It’s been fun, but if they keep playing the game the way they are, everyone will lose. The rules need to be updated— quickly. That contention is probably not the best conversation-opener with a senior business leader. But, at some point along the line, sustainability champions should be ready to gently help them see that their current model of doing business is not sustainable. Read More

The 5-Stage Sustainability Journey

As companies progress toward being sustainable enterprises, we can position them on a five-stage sustainability continuum. They evolve from an unsustainable model of business in Stages 1, 2 and 3, to a sustainable business framework in Stages 4 or 5. Executive mindsets also evolve from thinking of “green,” “environmental,” and “sustainable” initiatives as expensive and bureaucratic threats in the early stages, to recognizing them as catalysts for strategic growth in the later stages. We will use the 3-nested-dependencies model of a sustainable society, described in my July 20, 2010 blog, to describe the characteristics of companies in the five key stages on their sustainability journeys. Read More

3 Sustainability Models

As sustainability champions, we are sometimes confronted by frustrated people who ask what we mean by “sustainability.” What they really want to know is sustainability’s relevance to them, their organization, or their community. Is it a threatening concept, or a friendly one? Or maybe it’s just a fancy, multiple-syllable word for something to which they are already paying attention, at least partially? Read More

5 Strategies to Finding a Sustainability Job

We all seek the holy grail of a position that matches our convictions, needs, and competencies. People who want to make a difference sometimes ask me for advice on how to find a job in the “sustainability sector.” The bad news is that there is no such sector, any more than there is a “quality sector.” The good news is that there are roles in organizations that include varying degrees of responsibility for sustainability: in the organization, with its suppliers, and/or helping its clients become more sustainable enterprises.  Here are five strategies to help find one of those great jobs. Read More

3 More Ways to Reframe Sustainability for CEOs

Short Term Sustainability-based Strategies for Smart CEOs

As sustainability champions, we need to respect executives’ current priorities and help them save face if they “have no time right now” for sustainability. We need to find out what executives do have time for. Then, reframe our proposals as enabling strategies to help them address their urgent, pressing challenges— rather than as one more goal to worry about. Agree with their priorities. Meet them where they are. Honor their terminology and mindset; and suggest how sustainability-based strategies will help to achieve their current goals. Read More

5 Ways to Reframe Sustainability Strategies for CEOs

Sustainability language is often the Achilles heel of passionate sustainability advocates. We need to be smarter about borrowing C-suite (as in CEO, CFO, Chief-anything) language to adeptly reframe the “so-what” of our sustainability strategies and visions. We need to connect with senior executives’ language, context, and priorities. We need to build commitment when addressing tough, long-term business issues with sustainability-related strategies, often without ever using the S-word. So, what are the future issues and trends that CEOs are worried about; and how can we apply sustainability strategies to these areas? There are several dilemmas causing consternation in the executive circles these days, as described in the three recent articles and reports below: Read More

12 News Services That Help Sustainability Champions Stay Credible

Once sustainability champions take on the challenge of engaging others in environmental or social initiatives, they inevitably become viewed as “experts.” That’s the blessing and curse of any leader. It’s a tough label to live up to as you are faced with questions and challenges to your proposals. Fortunately, there are excellent online news services that help sustainability champions stay current and credible. As outlined in The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook, people expect sustainability champions to be trustworthy and to know what they are talking about—to be credible in three ways. Read More

7 Reasons Why Sustainability Is Not a Fad

“Are we getting close to the tipping point, when a critical mass of companies embraces sustainability?” I frequently hear that hopeful question. I used to optimistically estimate that we were three to five years away from that magic tipping point. I underestimated the power of those with vested interests in the status quo. But we are getting closer, despite the current global economic recession. Read More