Thursday, July 06, 2017

How can companies make their transition to environmental sustainability smooth ?

Environmental Sustainability is a term detested by most of the industries and businesses in the world because it entails extra expenses, more regulations and extra headache. It challenges the status quo, profitability, competitiveness and even the survival of the organisation in the long run.

Everybody talks of going green, being sustainable and so on, but is there a strategic time-tested and proven method of carrying out sustainability transition in large and small organisations, that can make this transition less risky. This is one of the reasons why organisations detest to go green. But there are time tested strategies and illustrated in this paper of a research by a team led by late Prof. CK Prahlad and published in the Harvard Business Review. 

Sustainability has impact not only on the environment,
it has impact on the society and economy too.. 
While going through earlier issues of HBR (Sept 2009), I found that treating sustainability as a new frontier of innovation and creating great awareness of the future benefits through good communications was one way organisations could be made to transition to sustainability initiatives effectively.

In the research, Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation, the authors have brought out five proactive steps, if adopted can make the sustainability and innovation journey of organisations quite productive and smooth. The five steps are mentioned here.

Step I - Viewing compliance as opportunity

Step II - Making value chains sustainable

Step III - Designing sustainable products and services

Step IV - Developing new Business Models

Step V - Creating next-practice platforms

In step I when we view compliance as an opportunity we tend to accept that sustainability is good for the society and the environment as a whole and change our mindsets and that of the society to take to environment preservation through sustainability initiatives as a top priority.

In step II, as the next step after recognising that sustainability is an inevitable activity, we need to follow it up not only with enforcing sustainability within only our organisations, but also sensitising our suppliers and supply chain partners to be more environmentally sensitive and to contribute to the well being of the environment.

In step III, having setup the supply chain to be environmentally conscious and sensitive, turn to getting advanced designs of one's own products and services which are environmentally sustainable, like electric cars, water less washing etc. 

In step IV, concentrate more on coming up with new business models like sustainable models of solar energy and wind energy generation, developing green buildings, adopting lean manufacturing across organisations etc..

In step V, creating next-practice platforms which have a radical look at conventional thinking and do away with many of the present day wasteful practices and customs can help design better revolutionary products that can not only serve human and societal needs but also come up with solutions that can take care of the environment and make it livable even for future generations. 

As much as it is important for organisations to have top-down commitment to foster sustainability measures, it is equally important for them to absorb and nurture the right quality workforce that respects and takes care of the environment and supports al sustainability initiatives of the organisation with full gusto and fervour.


Ref : 1. Nidumolu, Prahlad, Rangaswami, Why sustainability now is the key driver of Innovation, Harvard Business Review, Sept, 2009.

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