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Stubborn Facts & Getting that Sustainability Reporting System….

Uncertainty often breeds poor decisions, even if the logic of a good idea is obvious.

Two bogey men stand in the way of consistently great decision making.

Mr. Mental Shortcut, or the guy who short changes logic, taking instead an easier path, relying on intuition, experience, and knowledge alone without the hard work of figuring something out.

The other is Senior Notmine whose problem is always the most important, one which is also seldom yours.

These two guys are gate keepers to sound decision-making. And yes, they stand in the way of your “expensive” sustainability reporting system, the one which generates reports automatically, provides real-time data, improves performance management, saves time, money, while certainly boosting moral.

Here’s how you bust’em.

Short cut Mr. Shortcut with stubborn facts. Document the time costs of everyone involved in that year-end sustainability report by Excel adventure/madness. If the sum of time saved (T) is less than the system expense, a stubborn, passionless irrefutable fact is born: you will save money.

Undercut Notmines – If the savings are more than returns to fixing Senior Notmine’s problem (P), you are golden. If not, don’t despair. Consider this:

Sustainability reports are public documents and a potential source of public embarrassment risk (PER). Systems are cheap insurance against this cost. Play a few scenario games with the PR team role playing possible positive and negative surprises, they will understand!

Your colleagues also uniformly hate the informal reporting “system.” It is confusing, opaque, doesn’t communicate results worth a damn, and relies far too much on self-discipline and interpretation. Moral and team work inefficiency costs (M+TWI) are correspondingly high.

Add this to time saved. If it’s greater than the return of competing alternatives, the logic of saving is on your side to squash ambivalence and/or opposition.

If [(T) + (P) + (M+TWI)] is greater than (AP) = You are Golden!

Show your colleagues the time and effort savings. Let them personalize the savings and then get them to suggest to their boss how much more of their own work they could get done with a new system!

If not, hold your nose, fix your Excel and do the best you can.

Footnote: If resistance persists know that even irrational people want something.  Find out what it is and give them some kind of incentive to change their mind.




Want the Savings & Performance Enhancements of Sustainability Reporting System?

 …we can calculate [(T) + (P) + (M+TWI) + (PER)].

…we can advise you on the commercial reporting system that best meets your needs.

…want to fix you Excel reporting system, we can do that too!

Our fees are less than 50% of estimated first year savings. +52 777 313 0438 / +1 202 558 6594


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How to Practice Sustainability Leadership

Two words: collaboration and integrity – the lungs and heart of corporate sustainability.

Collaboration – the Lungs. Successful collaboration always maximizes value creation over top-down or isolated efforts. Usually messy, but once the ropes have been learned results are greater. Don’t be fooled by other approaches. They can work. But just as the cancer survivors turned marathoners who inspire us all will tell you: yea, you can run a 26 miles with just one lung but if you had two why would you?

Integrity – the Heart. Without integrity, corporate sustainability is doomed. Just doomed. Why?
Integrity is as indispensable because honest and forthright dealing always yields the best, most durable relationships. Also, corporate sustainability cynics abound, ready to pounce your every inconsistency, error, or misstep, ready in their ignorance to shoot the proverbial messenger.

Stake your reputation on doing what you say you are going to do, then do it. Admit errors, share successes, building credibility over time by the “history” of your words and actions.

And, in the enduring words of Thomas Jefferson…. In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Paraphrased from Jim Rohn quote see:


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Sustainable Century Corporate Strategy is real work….

Companies in this century will no longer be able to treat sustainably issues in isolation from the “real” work of business. Where we once groped for evidence to support this assertion, it now abounds. So much so that it caused the very free-market Economist to proclaim as long ago as 2008 that companies doing business and sustainability well will thrive over those do that don’t.

Strategy incorporating sustainability matter more than ever precisely because strategy is all about organizing the now to take advantage of the future. And if all the evidence points to the importance of sustainability, and it does, then adopting a sustainability strategy is not really all that prescient; it just makes good sense.


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Sustainability visionary leadership needs to give way (in part) to sustainability managerial leadership

Sustainability is just landing from the stratosphere of the Big Vision Thing. Its on-the-ground execution brand is still fuzzy, new-aged hippy.

Many self-styled sustainability leaders still talk vision only.  There are moments for that, but practical and realistic sustainability management leadership must increasingly take over. Focused, obsessive, disciplined problem solving while passionately supporting sustainability leadership throughout the execution chain and within the sustainability leadership collective… that’s the true grit of sustainability leadership.

Your own role? It may be to hold the chalk. It may be presenting to the CEO. Or it might just be to make the best damn organic shade grown fairly trade coffee on earth. All roles are leadership-important, learn yours and get on with supporting others in theirs. That’s the stuff of sustainability leadership.

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Now I am no anthropologist….

but it seems clear to me that linking brands to our survival instinct and protecting the “clan” is quite a bit stronger than “buy me and be sexy or manly” branding approach.  Clan-like devotion to some brands hints at this power and an increasing number of companies are associating with these instinctive values. Sustainability consumers favor Timberland shoes, for example, because they source and then transparently report on the sustainability merits of inputs and processes employed to make the shoe. Consumers buy organic food not just for the obvious health benefits, but because they help the environment, usually support local farmers and local economic activity, and is often sold in small producer markets creating social connections and great good will!

Just as a poor cane cutter in Brazil may prize his Ferrari polo shirt, millions of consumers are willing to pay more for the experiences and emotional stimulation buying sustainability can provoke. Even consumers who make only the occasional sustainability-related purchase are buying a deeply moving personal experience.

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 Sustainability Arbitrage….

The familiar marketing terms greenwashing and bluewashing refer to a company stretches the truth about their environmental and humanitarian performance past the point of credibility. The advent of rigorous sustainability reporting has discouraged this practice greatly in recent years, but not so Sustainability Value Arbitraging.

Strategic sustainability arbitraging is when a company makes PR hay and disproportionate value creation on the back of modest non-material efforts such as a non-core business related donations program all the while not attending to material negative impacts. It’s like a company which rallies employees around cancer charities meanwhile supporting processes, products and encouraging lifestyles that are possible contributory cause to…. cancer.

Beware, sustainability materiality reporting is nigh….


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Sustainability Strategy Dream Team

Most companies are only part way towards conceiving the need for an integrated sustainability strategy let alone developing one.  For those who get sustainability, game changing opportunities abound just as they did when Ford introduced the production line, Taylor developed management efficiency concepts, or when Jobs married design, function, and globalized supply chains. The first scary steps into the great sustainability unknown is to leave behind the “sustainability as a cost” mentality and move resolutely towards a more collaborative value creation orientation. This will test both the traditional knowledge base and resource allocation instincts of managers, and it will challenge the small victories by tactics approach.

Sustainability strategy in the broadest sense is where “Mr. Here-and-now” strategizes with “Ms. Long-term” while talking with Mr. Innovation or, if you can imagine, Henry Ford scheming with Gro Harlem Brundtland and Steve Jobs. Thus engaged, a sustainability strategy conversation flows naturally – dare I say organically — towards the question of what sustainability can do for my company in a global economy of growing scarcity, resource conflict and internet driven social

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Sustainability Leadership & The Vision Collaborative

20th century leadership was about the individual. The great general, the great politician, the great union leader etc. The hyper connected 21st century exposed two fatal flaws with this belief-cum-practice.

One…it’s the vision that moves people not the person.

Two…if we do not see ourselves all as leaders we easily fall prey to becoming sheepish followers (and we know where that gets us…..).

A visionary leader of any kind, but most especially the sustainability kind, knows in their heart effective leadership is about the collective and not individual. Not the Jean Luc Picard nemesis Borg collective. Think rather, colleagues and allies connected by a shared vision of more and better corporate sustainability.

What more and better means to a given company will differ. What shouldn’t is the purposeful tapping of collective wisdom to identify where sustainability risks and opportunities lie.

The leadership collective’s job: in the paraphrase words of the indomitable Stephen Covey – to lean the sustainability ladder “against the right wall” and then define just how high to climb.

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Just a Snicker away from more and better Corporate Sustainability …

No, not the chocolate bar, but the resonant, almost-behind-your-back chortle of the sustainability cynic.

Eager to debase your passion and plans for more and better corporate sustainability, the “Snickerer” should be your first choice for a coffee time partner. They are the font of established opinion and their hyper critical life view holds much unpleasant truth. Embrace that, and learn from them, for who best to lead you through all the barriers between you and more budget, people and passion?

Don’t let reason get the better of you either. This is reptilian brain work. Snickerers fear change, see cost everywhere but value nowhere. Creating the “connective tissues” turning adversary to collaborator takes time but can be well worth the effort. It may never happen, but you will certainly learn and grow no matter what happens.

Call one now.

See Uzzi and Dunlap in the Harvard Business Review,
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Hemingway on Sustainability Reporting (were he alive): Don’t be Hollow, Be Material

Hemingway knew a thing or two about writing prose.

He also knew about icebergs… “The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water…..”

In his writing Hemingway insisted similarly that what is not said is as important as what is. If a writer knows “enough of what he is writing about” omission of detail, he argued, will leave the reader no less affected.

Same goes for sustainability reports but to the opposite effect.

Focusing on surface elements without presenting underlying issues fools only the foolish. Serious corporate sustainability stakeholders, whose love of drama and tragedy is every bit as strong as any fan of Hemingway, live for the unstated. Their mission: shine light on lies, half-truths, and omissions, or, the story that lies below the surface.

Sadly, and more often than not, corporate “evil” doings are born of simply not knowing, or not bothering to find out what sustainability issues are meaningful or material to a company’s sustainability story.

A sustainability report which doesn’t know what it really ought to be reporting on, like bad prose, has “hollow places” as Papa would say. Material impact omissions will be “outed” – guaranteed.

So don’t be hollow, be material.

A great materiality analysis will… save your company up to 25% on its sustainability report… boost strategic sustainability focus and sustainability ROI performance…. Drop me a line if you want to learn more… or +1 202 5586594 or +52 777 313 0438

Ernest Hemingway quotes from Death in the Afternoon

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