Sustainability means different things to different organizations, and it should, as size of organization and industry most definitely play a role in the definition. However, there are commonalities to sustainability that apply to every organization, and it is a profitable, proven business strategy when implemented effectively. It creates a competitive business advantage while positively impacting the environment and your future ability to do business.
It all begins with alignment. When the core components of any organization are aligned, it leads to profitability, loyal customers, long-term growth, and systems thinking which are all important measurable outcomes. The three core elements that should always be in alignment are:
When components are not aligned and there is no strategic focus, a compartmentalized mentality starts to bubble to the surface. Variation starts to creep in and each work unit tends to focus on their own self-interest in lieu of process efficiency and effectiveness, resulting in a silo-oriented attitude.
When organizations focus solely on environmental issues apart from their strategic direction they are often doing so merely to comply with regulations or standards set by some governing body. Compliance is viewed as an expense. Even worse, they are giving the concept of sustainability lip service because customers and stakeholders are beginning to grumble.
However, as the components start to align, you can see how the areas of People and Process begin to create innovation. They begin to prevent problems, look for ways to do things faster, and promote interdepartmental teams and employee loyalty. As Process and the Environment begin to intersect, it immediately creates departmental or business unit alignment, more efficiency within the supply chain, and promotes an environment of systems thinking.
As the areas of People and Environment come together, it creates employee engagement, proactive decision-making, and it fosters a commitment that sustainability is part of the overall culture. This will definitely enhance profitability.