Over the past few decades, sustainability is slowly evolving from a risk management, reporting, and efficiency-centered practice to a data analysis, product/process development, and change management practice.
However, if leading companies continue make sustainability changes incrementally, their future, the future of sustainable growth, and the future of our economy and society as we know it could be at risk.
The solution, according to a recent article, is to take sustainability to the 21st Century.
What does this mean?
Although we aren’t living the Jetson’s life just yet, we the innovations in technology, data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) just in the past year alone (Hey, Alexa…) demonstrate the speed at which the marketplace can adapt to change.
If the consumer and business response to transformative technology can be quick and positive, then companies simply need to push sustainability efforts harder, outside existing business models, to create “breakthrough innovations.”
“Sustainability efforts are constrained by a laser focus on managing tangible and present risk, finding increased efficiency in day-to-day business operations, and reporting on the results to manage internal and external stakeholder expectations. These efforts can give organizations an edge over the competition in the short term but won’t work in the long term. What we need is sustainability-focused breakthrough innovation.”
Instead of making a 5% “more efficient” car or car factory, Tesla just re-invented the car.
Breakthrough innovations transform the market itself in a sustainable way, but they don’t happen in a vacuum. Corporate sustainability initiatives need to be set up to facilitate breakthrough innovations:
- Make sure the CEO and Board are ready to commit 100% to both the idea and the business case for investing in sustainability
- Set up an innovation lab to specifically focus on making sustainable, market shifting products and services
- Integrate sustainability strategy into all parts of corporate operations.
- Measure, report back, and repeat.
Read the full article for case studies, research, and detailed examples on pushing an “innovation breakthrough” strategy to set the stage for real sustainability in the marketplace of the future.