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98% of Sustainability Initiatives Fail. What the …?!

Failing grades without compelling business cases

Last month, Bain & Company published a rather shocking report, "Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability." The title is encouraging; its findings are not. Based on a survey of over 300 large companies engaged in sustainability efforts, it found that 98% of sustainability initiatives fail. What the ...?! Read More

5 Reasons for Hope on Climate Change, Despite Trump

trump-pinoccio-nose One of the leadership paradoxes explained in The Leadership Champions Guidebook is: “Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better.” Things really got worse on the climate change file with the election of Donald Trump. However, after we overcome our shock and denial, we sustainability champions are quickly working our way through the anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance phases in Kubler-Ross’s personal change curve. Energized by 5 reasons for hope on climate change, despite Trump’s election, we are cranking up our efforts to mitigate climate destabilization and make things better. Read More

5 Reasons It’s Time to Use the Sustainability Risk Stick

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  I'm screwing up as a sustainability champion. For fifteen years, I have been writing and speaking about how corporations can capture the 4 carrots of emerging business opportunities, while reducing their negative environmental and social footprints.  The good news is that, for whatever reasons, some businesses are making incremental progress on their sustainability agendas. The bad news is that not enough firms are making enough progress, fast enough, to get to where they need to be―and to where my kids and my grandsons need them to be. I've decided to click into a different gear and to lead with a "burning platform" of environmental and social risks―the stick―that businesses must mitigate if they want to be fit for the future. There are 5 reasons that it's time for me―and perhaps other frustrated sustainability champions―to change tactics. Read More

Sustainability – The 4-Step Transformation from Stage 3 to Stage 4

Is it really possible for a company to become a sustainable enterprise? Yes, it is. But, it requires a significant transformation. No company will undertake such a significant metamorphosis unless it increases its value. In fact, each step must benefit the company or it will be difficult to convince shareholders and other important stakeholders that it should go further on the sustainability journey. The four stepping-stones from an unsustainable company to a sustainable business model are designed to ensure that each step produces real business benefits. In my July 27, 2010, blog, I described the five-stage journey that a business follows—as it moves from an unsustainable enterprise in Stages 1, 2, and 3 to a sustainable enterprise in Stages 4 or 5. In my August 3 blog, we looked at four reasons the current take-make-waste model of business used in Stages 1-3 is not sustainable. In my August 10 blog, we contrasted the take-make-waste model with a sustainable, cyclical, borrow-use-return model of commerce. This week, we will drill down to examine four critical stepping-stones between Stages 3 and 4. 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