The *only* way to get boardroom buy-in for Sustainability
In the last year I’ve supported the development of Sustainability Strategies for two very similar umbrella organisations. The main difference between the two is that one is much larger and multi-faceted than the other with an order of magnitude more stakeholders. You would’ve thought that the bigger, more complicated case would involve much more wrangling when it came to the final sign-off at board level, but… you’d be wrong.
The critical difference between the two projects was time. We had a year for the more complicated one and just a few weeks for the simpler one. To meet the latter deadline, I had to compromise on a crucial element of my strategy development process – the boardroom workshop – as we simply didn’t have enough time to schedule one. And the difference in stress levels for all concerned was palpable! We got there in the end…
While the omission of the workshop was unavoidable, it was a useful reminder that the ONLY effective way of getting people on board for Sustainability is to involve them directly in the process of designing the strategy, programme or project. The traditional ‘draft document then present for approval’ approach means board members come to the contents cold and any board member worth their salt will ask difficult questions before giving approval.
By contrast, the co-creation approach tilts an uphill clamber into a downhill saunter as everybody has had their say before you’ve typed a word of the final text. This involvement in the process gives those board members not only a deeper understanding of what you are trying to do, but, more importantly, an emotional attachment to the strategy – as it is theirs, not mine.