To initiate a strategic management process for business sustainability, organizations begin with an evaluation of their current state through internal observation and engagement with key stakeholders. Companies often leverage tools such as stakeholder discussions, interviews, and surveys to analyze the internal environment. This information may already be available from previous or current business improvements programs.
The next step is to formulate and evaluate business sustainability strategies. Picking the right business sustainability strategy is not always an easy task. Companies aim to adopt strategies that meet specific needs, engage the organization, and most efficiently generates defined results. Examples include:
• Cost effective strategies are employed when dollars, resources and time are in short supply. These practices can be an effective way to identify obvious areas of business sustainability improvement and address quick and easy solutions.
• Risk management strategies are typically focused on addressing internal weak points in an attempt to protect the bottom line. This is a tactic often employed when considering a sustainability concept that is seen as having a potentially large negative impact.
• Innovation strategies are progressive strategies that seek out opportunities to add value. These strategies are often viewed as leading actions and the marks of the most progressive companies. They are defined by a shift in the way something is currently being done to make radical and revolutionary changes in thinking.
In the implementation of sustainable change, there are demonstrated and measureable marks of progress. Business leader recognize that one of the keys to a successful implementation of a sustainable business model is the management of change. Setting and celebrating milestones is a great means of communicating progress to an organization.
• Communicate the company’s sustainability strategy, including clearly stated policies, integration into core business, links to profitability.
• Recognize and reward the creation of specific value from sustainability defined from within organization.
• Reward value creation and business sustainability within the company’s supply chain.
Finally, the strategic management of sustainability is a process of continuous improvement. It includes periods of reflection, reevaluation, and potentially redefinition. Leading businesses are continuously evaluating and challenging the status quo.