Sustainability Strategies in an Uncertain World
I’m a news and current affairs junkie, but the news is so unremittingly grim at the minute, I’m trying to ration my intake for my own sanity. Whether it’s Ukraine, Gaza, the Ebola virus, Boko Haram or ISIS, we seem to be in a swirl of instability where one small event can pitch us into a crisis.
Sudden disruption is a feature of corporate social responsibility too. The 24 hour news beast needs constant feeding and social media means allegations, legitimate or otherwise, can spread across the globe like wildfire, unfiltered by the reality checks a traditional NGO would be expected to apply. This can turn into a self serving cycle where the mainstream media finds itself reporting on a ‘Twitterstorm’ which in turn feeds the rumour. All this using a technology which is only 8 years old.
As one of the Sustainability Mastermind Group Members put it ten days ago “Instability is the new business reality.” So how can you deal with the beast?
- Make sure your strategy is separate from your action plans. A strategy should tell you where you want to get to, but you need to be flexible on how you intend to get there. Action plans need to be flexible – remember the old military adage ‘a plan never survives first contact with the enemy’;
- Dump liabilities overboard. If you’ve got a product which you think could get you in trouble in the future, develop a replacement. If you use a chemical of concern – find an alternative or design it out of your process. GM got rid of Hummer after its Government bail out for a very good reason;
- Open up: Apple has defused much of the bad publicity around its Chinese subcontractors by publishing all its audit reports. This incentivises Apple to deal with problems, incentivises the subcontractors to deal with problems and removes the sting from the NGOs.
But the bottom line is, instability is here to stay, get used to it!