The Insiders’ Guide to Making Sustainability Sustainable
Last Thursday, the Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group celebrated its second birthday at the place of its birth – the iconic Baltic art gallery in Gateshead. With views of the Tyne and Millennium Bridges and the kittiwakes wheeling around outside, it was great to be back. And just like two years previously, I couldn’t resist adding a little artwork of my own to the walls – one of the graphical templates I use to structure the discussion just enough.
The topic was ‘Making Sustainability Sustainable’ and our journey was to go from ‘business as usual’ to the ideal place where sustainability was ‘the new normal’ by driving our (low carbon) monster truck over the big pile of boulders in our way. If you want a copy of the template, click here.
By the time we finished, the template looked like this (plus a couple of dozen tangential points captured on the flip chart):
Here’s a selection of the ideas the Group generated:
- Need to clearly define and communicate the compelling reason to act
- Give sustainability a strong corporate brand to lock it into the business (eg Mission Zero, Plan A)
- Use storytelling, not ‘tractor production statistics’
- Set clear, ambitious high level goals
- Cascade goals down through the organisation, translating them as appropriate
- Build these goals into job descriptions/personal objectives of key people
- Play the system – identify the key driving processes (eg risk register) and get sustainability in there
- Identify key individuals and engage them directly eg CEO, FD
- Put leaders on the spot eg “Can you give a presentation on sustainability?”
- Don’t be afraid to shake things up
- Never give up!
But as always, there was as much value to be gained from the discussion and the debate than from these bullet points. As one delegate put it “that was the best one yet – the light, airy venue was really conducive to free thinking.” Not to mention the fantastic lunch in the 6 restaurant on the top floor.
The next meeting in July will discuss a related topic “How to Make Sustainability Resilient” – ie to sudden upheavals such as changes in legislation, markets, business structure or key personnel.
The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group is suitable for senior sustainability managers from large organisations – see our FAQs here.