Many organizations are under pressure to respond to stakeholder demands to improve their sustainability posture. For instance, Deloitte Global’s 2019 millennial survey found that customer preferences are tilting toward sustainable products and services, with 42 percent of millennials stating that they had chosen to purchase a company’s products or services because they perceived it to have a positive impact on society or the environment.
As a result, sustainability is now reaching a tipping point, where enterprises that embrace it may reap potential benefits, while others that do not might miss out. How can companies accelerate their transformation in sustainable development to find new opportunities and avenues for growth? We will examine three key methods: 1) Looking ahead; 2) Looking inside; and 3) Looking around.
Enterprises can look ahead to help understand how to take advantage of new growth opportunities related to sustainable development, as well as what threats and challenges may arise from it. Some firms may need to change their culture and mindset away from short term, quarter-to-quarter focus, and instead think about how to deliver long-term value. For the enterprise that looks ahead, there can be opportunities to turn future disruptions into opportunities.
To accomplish this, organizations might want to consider using a “zoom-in, zoom-out” approach. First, they can zoom-out beyond short-term horizons of typical planning and strategies, and consider the economic, social and geopolitical environment 10-20 years in the future. This enables the creation of a vision for how the organization needs to evolve over the long term. Next, after understanding what the future might hold, they can zoom-in to the immediate future, to identify actions in the next 6-12 months that can help them move toward their long-term vision.
Executives can look inside their organization to see what initiatives can be launched today to accelerate transformation in corporate sustainability. This process can include both weaving sustainable development into existing business models, products and services; and creating new sustainability-driven business models, strategies, projects and services. Organizations that use this process for transformation often adopt a shift in thinking, such as:
Finally, looking at the broader business ecosystem is a good way to evaluate the availability of expertise and skill sets needed to drive transformation in sustainable development. When looking around, enterprises often realize that the required people, skills, knowledge or technology are not in-house. And, it is important to realize that they don’t need to be in-house; leveraging the capabilities of other entities, and partnering with like-minded businesses within the ecosystem, can be a more efficient way to drive sustainability transformation.
The Bottom Line: It’s Time to Transform
Many enterprises will need to transform their strategies to respond to shifting market conditions that call for greater sustainability. By looking ahead, looking inside, and looking around, organizations can better understand the opportunities presented by sustainability and how to take advantage of them.
For more details and advice on ways to elevate sustainability, including examples from organizations such as Unilever, Black Rock, Royal Dutch Shell, Volkswagen and more, read the Deloitte article The Sustainability Transformation here.
SARAH KERRIGAN is the Strategy Lead for Deloitte Center for the Edge, Asia Pacific. She combines her expertise in strategy, transformation and sustainability to help senior executives identify, and make sense of, emerging disruption and new growth opportunities. Sarah has over a decade of global consulting experience, guiding clients in the sustainable transition of their strategies, operations and investments. She is based in Singapore.