Friday, March 18, 2011

Sustainability is to this decade as what Quality was in the 70s

The 60s saw the birth of The Quality Revolution and it took couple decades to get into the mainstream thought. Companies like Toyota and Motorola had embraced it in the 70s. They treated quality as an opportunity for process improvements rather than cost and benefited dramatically. They shot way ahead of their competitors and the latter are still playing catch-up requiring costly bail-outs from the government every now and then.

Today we are at the threshold of the Sustainability Revolution. The infancy decade for Sustainability is past, we are now on the second phase. Those who embrace it now will shoot ahead, and those who do not will fade to the background. Lip service will not be enough, this is a revolution and it calls for action, measurable action.

Companies who will derive competitive advantages from their sustainability programs will have to treat these programs as an opportunity and not simply an added cost to absorb, another risk to manage or one more regulation with which to comply with. Commitment is the key with action to follow.

Ambiguity still surrounds the term sustainability. We are bombarded with several terms - greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, carbon footprint, global warming, water footprint, cleantech, bio mimicry, eco-engineering, etc. Most companies now have vision statements that encompass Sustainability, but the leaders of these companies are usually a bit concerned and confused on how to implement these initiatives. Here are a few pointers:
  • We need a strong determined CEO to champion this cause and be highly visible to the company. He/ She sets the tone and promotes a change of thinking.
  • Next he/ she needs to install carefully selected leaders in the organization who will lead and bring about continuous improvement towards sustainability - these leaders will have to come from all sectors in the company organization.
  • Multi-disciplinary teams will have to be inspired to come up with sustainable operation ideas not only in products but also in processes.
  • Focus on integrating sustainable processes deep into the work culture of the company. 
  • Link sustainability performance indicators directly with professional growth and encourage innovation.
Sustainability is not a buzz word anymore, it's time for action. If we do not act now we only have ourselves to blame when  we lose the competitive advantage in the coming years. Proteus Consulting is committed to helping our clients achieve the next break through and surge ahead by embracing Sustainability.

No comments:

Post a Comment