How to Accelerate Sustainability
I got into a Twitter conversation last week about how to change towards Sustainability rapidly. That exchange was mainly about national issues, but my examples naturally came from the corporate/organisational world that I inhabit. I thought I’d quickly summarise what I’ve learnt over the years – much of which I covered in my book Accelerating Sustainability using the 80:20 rule.
The 80:20 rule, as I’m sure you’re aware, says that 20% of what we do produces 80% of the results, whereas the other 80% gives us just 20%. So if you want to get large scale, rapid change, we need to focus on the most productive 20%. Such brutal pruning and focus doesn’t come naturally to idealists, but I’ve always been a pragmatist!
Here are some examples:
- Forget all the nonsense about ‘making everybody aware of climate change’ – it ain’t going to happen. Target your efforts on the decision makers who are in a position to make a difference;
- That almost certainly means getting real commitment from the top. There are many crafty ways to do this but all of them revolve around getting leaders to truly own Sustainability rather than simply put their name to the annual report;
- Set stretch targets: zero waste, zero carbon, zero toxins, avoid incremental targets (2% improvement per annum);
- Use Green Jujitsu: speak the language of your audience, not Sustainability jargon;
- Align Sustainability to business drivers. If an action is good for the planet and good for business, it is far more likely to happen than if it conflicts with business drivers;
- Delegate quick wins to others and tackle the elephant in the room. Trying to squeeze some efficiency gains out of a process that is never going to be sustainable is a waste of time, you need a new process;
- Get the stakeholders you need on board to co-create those solutions with you: you get better ideas AND their buy-in which is priceless.
If you have any more ideas, add them below.