The 6-Point Publishing Strategy for “The Ultimate Sustainability Advantage Workbook”

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.

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 Please use this brief survey to submit your ideas. Your suggestions will help ensure that the Ultimate Workbook is as “ultimate” as intended.


7 replies
  1. Dawn Ringrose
    Dawn Ringrose says:

    My compliments Bob. Your approach is to be applauded. What better way to create awareness with organizations and encourage them to use sustainability best practices than providing the foundational elements ! I am using a similar approach at Organizational Excellence Specialists to equip professionals so they can help organizations improve performance.. But easier said than done ! While we may be developing state-of-the-art materials based on decades of experience, the question remains – Do organizations have the WILL to implement? Leaders must commit and create infectious optimism amongst their employees to embark on the journey and commit the resources to make it happen. And let’s not forget about government as representatives play an important role in creating policy, programs and regulations to support the initiative. In today’s marketplace, where change is the order of the day and information travels at lightning speed, we must find a way to work together towards a common aim rather than using ‘flavour of the week’ solutions that serve to confuse the marketplace in the short term and dilute the overall effort in the long term. Perhaps the WILL of others remains the biggest challenge for those of us passionate about making the world a better place.

  2. Bob Willard
    Bob Willard says:

    I agree, Dawn. A compelling business case does wonders for executives’ will. The Workbook will help frame the business case so that executives will insist on implementing sustainability initiatives so that they can reap the benefits and avoid the risk of inaction. The ultimate business case will fuel their enthusiasm. Bob

  3. Bill Blackburn
    Bill Blackburn says:

    Terrific idea Bob. Hope the tool will have the flexibility so local Sustainability execs can pick examples relevant to the company and even dive into their own company for such examples. Could provide some guidance on what examples would be best to choose in what corporate situations. Also would be good to have the flexibility so the exec could take existing policies and positions of the company to show how company values are already leaning in the direction of sustainability and to show what tweaks could build on existing company structure and documents to more fully embrace the sustainability ethic.

  4. Bob Willard
    Bob Willard says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Bill. The Workbook will have the flexibility you describe. It starts with a clean slate (rather than with placeholders that I used in previous versions) and users fill in the blanks with guidance from associated comments. I provide some “Possibilities” examples as food for thought but users are encouraged to support their entries with internal and external examples that are more relevant to the company’s situation. They edit the comments to document their thinking for further discussions. Also, the business case template for each classification of initiatives starts with an opportunity to show how those kinds of projects are aligned with company values, policies, structure, and purpose. Thanks for reinforcing the need to be clear about all this.

  5. Ramsey Wahba
    Ramsey Wahba says:

    What I love about this is that with Bob, its Christmas all year round. His philanthropic approach to sharing his work and experience free of charge (or at most at a nominal amount) is testimony to a person truly committed to the cause.

  6. Julian Crawford
    Julian Crawford says:

    Such a generous and ‘pay forward’ approach Bob. I greatly admire your professional and personal generosity in doing this. It aligns with my personal belief that people will ‘go upstream to source’ if they are interested to pursue things. Thank you.

  7. Bob Willard
    Bob Willard says:

    Thanks, Julian. Having three grandsons helps my sense of urgency to help build the collective will to take action on pressing sustainability issues like climate change. We know what to do, we know how to do it, and we have adequate technology to do it. What we lack is the will to do it. My intent is that the business case framed by “Ultbook” will help build that collective will in the most powerful and influential sector on the planet — the business sector. When corporations get on board, a magic ripple effect kicks in. Wouldn’t be cool if “Ultbook” went viral …? 🙂 Bob

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