The business case for adopting a sustainable business strategy is solid. Beyond the obvious efficiency gains that can be found in ongoing operations there are prospects of gaining a more profitable position in the marketplace (or a license to operate at all), drive employee engagement (which is a shamefully weak spot in firms worldwide) and enjoy a lower cost of capital, which translates into immense savings in large firms. Not to speak of the brand new business opportunities that can stem from sustainability practices if they are nurtured in the right way.
Yet most firms’ sustainability practices are not driven by these business prospects, they are driven by compliance. In the last two decades, reporting on environmental and social sustainability has grown from (close to) zero to being a mandatory discipline in most firms in the west. Such reporting is good for the business sustainability research field as it provides a steady flow of data. But, sadly, it also reduces sustainability practices to a check-box activity rather than letting it take place as a driver of business differentiation.
There is an early mover advantage in adopting a sustainable business strategy and seek advantage of the business case outlined above. But whereas strategic thinking in the business sustainability field (and communication schemes regarding firms’ benevolent intentions) has got a good start, most firms fall short of integrating their business and sustainability strategies into an entity that makes sense. Firms must get over this hurdle to gain competitive advantages in the short run, and to survive at all in the long run.
In the years to come a stream of methodologies will be presented that aim to solve the problem of integrating business and sustainability strategies. Given the necessity of counteracting escalating environmental problems, all efforts are much welcome. Cordial’s contribution to this new set of work tools is the concept of Strategy Stretch.
Strategy Stretch is a set of workshops that are integrated into the normal business planning cycle. These workshops aim to mitigate long term risks, engage employees and explore new business opportunities. All linked to business sustainability. The Strategy Stretch workshops provide a pragmatic way to get going with the practical matter of integrating business and sustainability strategies. Today, most firms have already learned to talk the talk, but the future belongs to those who start walking the walk.
For more information on the concept of Strategy Stretch, please contact Viktor Häggander at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone +46 705 189 529.