In this space Connecting The Dots you may help yourself to figure out where and how to focus in your own organisation. Clarying Focus helps to pinpoint focus within your organisation. Identifying Needs show some typical challenges which other leaders have faced. Embedding in Business raises some basic questions useful to consider.    

Clarifying Focus

- know how to pinpoint

Where would you put your efforts to make the most impact in achieving your objectives?

Sometimes it´s strategy. Often, it is how strategy is implemented or how the organisation work. The governance undertaking is essential. And it matters where in the organisation you focus.  

Get inspired
- navigate the cube:

cubus Relevance of strategy Quality of implementation Quality of operations Leadership Effectiveness Accountability Engagement Corporate Business units Business functions Extended value chain

Action

Ready to pursue integration of sustainability within leading the organisation - whether there are synergies or tradeoffs?
Source; The IOD Strategy Decision Framework; The McKinsey 7 S model. Adapted.

Capabilities

How are capabilities lead in the context of the actions before you. The principles of corporate governance helps to connect board level undertaking to capabilities at work in the organization to achieve corporate objectives. Source: The UK Corporate Governance Code

Structure

Where are the hurdles - at corporate level or in business entities? How to use the politics and power in the organisation to achieve objectives?

Relevance of strategy

  • The basic analysis of macro and micro environment and capability
  • The consistency with vision, mission and values
  • The objectives and the transformation of analysis and assessments into strategy

Click here for key questions to ask

Quality of implementation
  • The ability and drive of the organization to deliver strategy
    • Are vision and mission guiding and setting the pace throughout the organization
    • Are the values promoted and adhered to throughout the organization
    • Are company goals determined and reviewed and cascaded into targets and incentives at operational levels
    • Are business strategy and business plans determined, reviewed and adapted

Click here for key questions to ask

Quality of operations
  • The structure, systems, skills, staff, style and use of shared value to deliver on objectives
    • Are company policies determined, understood and adhered to throughout the organization
    • Are organizational structure and capability appropriate for implementing the chosen strategy
    • Is delegation of authority working, including evaluation of implementation, setting monitoring criteria and communicating on progress

Click here for key questions to ask

Leadership

  • Key drivers includes
    • Define and live the vision and commit to success
    • Communicate freely and challenge status quo
    • Leadership attributes applied

Effectiveness

  • Building blocks of effectiveness includes
    • Level of trust
    • Clear focus and purpose
    • Effective systems for delivery

Accountability

  • The directors - whether in a one-tier or two-tier board - should ensure
    • Relevance and quality of external reporting
    • Sound risk management in place to achieve strategic objectives
    • Formal and transparent arrangement for corporate reporting, risk management and internal control principles as well as for remuneration
  • And those arrangement are cascaded, as appropriate, throughout the organization

Engagement

  • Engagement is embedded with good leadership
    • While accountability to shareholders rest with each member of the organization the board and senior executives maintains communication with the shareholders
    • The responsibility to – and the engagement with - other stakeholders rest with the board and all members of the organization
    • Both are directed by the tone from the top

Corporate

  • The role of the board, executives and their support functions to lead and guide the organization

Business units
  • Business unit role in delivering action and perform function
    • Units, lines, regions, countries – again starting from executive level

Business functions
  • Business function role in delivering action and perform function
    • Sales, marketing, innovation, manufacturing, procurement, HR, finance, risk, communication, IT and logistic, projects

Extended value chain
  • The actions and performance of external entities on which you are or will become dependent
    • Business partners, suppliers, costumers, strategic alliances
    • Due diligence on potential partners, targets for M&A or divestments

Action

You may undertake an annual review of strategy in addition to your major strategy processes. You may actually constantly keep an eye on strategy and make adjustments timely responding to changing marked dynamics. The right moment to take sustainability to the next level is defined by your responsiveness to stakeholder movements and your strategy processes. 

Implementation is most often the reason while strategies fail - if poorly planned and managed. It facilitates changes or improvements and learning and change management are key ingredients.

There are countless screws to turn to tune operations by embedding sustainability. Which matters most depend on your specifics.

Capabilities

How are capabilities developed, adapted and at work to ensure achievement of objectives. Your board probably applies processes to direct the business in managing capabilities, which will cascade from top management to all members of the organization. You need to ensure that sustainability gets in throughout the chain.

The capabilities may be referred to as
  • Key resource categories; such as human, financial, material, technology and equipment, information and knowledge, buildings and space, intangibles
  • Systems and process; with systems being the controls applied to processes to ensure that they operate efficiently and effective.
  • The culture; as concerned with the beliefs, values, norms, habits, assumptions and traditions shared by the members of the organization
  • Innovation; how key resources, systems and culture lay the foundation for the board to encourage creativity and innovation in the organization

The use of capabilities will define the quality of operations - hence the quality of how sustainability is integrated.

Structure

The structure of the business/organization is concerned with how it solves the task of allocating power and resources. It is fundamentally concerned, therefore, with the politics of the organization.
Power may be exercised through the formal organizational structure and through informal mechanism.

 

In taking sustainability to the next level getting the politics and power on board is essential.

 

Identifying needs

- our bull's eye

Here are some of the challenges we have dealt with when helping embedding sustainability into mainstream business.

 

 Get inspired

- navigate the wheel!

Review strategy

Implement strategy - operate effectively

Report performance

Manage risk

You have a need to assure your board to be comfortable with process and outcome.

  • You may want to raise the stake because of pressure from costumers, industry standards or looming legislation
  • You may need to raise trust amongst key stakeholders because you have been questioned
  • You need to support your board and senior executives on what is needed for the company to achieve its objectives – but you are unclear on how to figure out the real sustainability impact on business as usual
  • You know all the sustainability stuff – but you struggle to get your message across to the board and senior executives and you need support to make this happen

You have a need to assure your board to be comfortable with process and outcome

  • You want confidence whether sustainability related performance and capability of your organization at large is up to speed and ready to met key business challenges – and on how to improve
  • You have a sustainability or corporate responsibility policy, a designated manager and annual reporting in place but still your organization struggles to see the value of this to business
  • You want confidence that your sustainability budget is justified and plans are effective
  • You need interim leadership capability to help you through a transition period
  • You want advice or support on how to implement directions from corporate headquarter in your business
  • You just need help to implement a good plan
  • You want confidence that your sustainability budget is justified and plans are effective
  • You want advice on or support to how to implement directions from corporate headquarter in your business
  • You may just need help to implement a good plan

You have a need to assure your board to be comfortable with process and outcome

  • You may want to ensure that your risk appetite is effectively translated into sound risk management and internal control systems
  • You may want confidence that your “checks and balances” are appropriate and fit for purpose - whether including internal measures and audits or external verifications or outsourced control scheme

 

  • You need to support your board and senior executives on what is needed for the company to achieve its objectives - but you are unclear as to how to measure the sustainability and CR impact on risks to the business
  • you know all the sustainability stuff - but you struggle to get your message across to the board and senior executives  - and you need support to make this happen

You have a need to assure your board to be comfortable with process and outcome

  • You want to strike a better balance between conflicting demands from a communication/marketing perspective, the vague emerging reporting standards, the non-disclosure tempted legal council hesitation, and your wish to present a balanced and understandable assessment of the company’s position and prospects towards achieving its vision and fulfilling its strategy
  • You want to strike a better balance between conflicting demands from a communication/marketing perspective, the vague emerging reporting standards, the non-disclosure tempted legal council hesitation, and your wish to present a balanced and understandable assessment of the company’s position and prospects towards achieving its vision and fulfilling its strategy

Director

You are a member of the Board of Directors accountable to shareholders and responsible to stakeholders.

Executive

You have leadership responsibility for the business part of it.

Issue owner

You are charged with responsibility for leading or coordinating sustainability or corporate responsibility actions.

Embedding in business

- get the thinking right

No matter what sustainability topic you should be able to ask the right questions in the right context of business. Or vice verse, no matter what course of business action there may be a sustainability dimension to take into account. Sustainability is not an add-on, but until its integrated with how your colleagues thinks business-as-usual it deserves distinct attention.

 

Get inspired - navigate the matrix! 

Organizational focus & purpose

What future do you want to create for the organization?

How do you create value for stakeholders? What business are you in?

What do you believe in?

How do you add to better societies and better qualities of life? What are trade-offs?

How is maximising value creation compared to value of trade-offs?

How is sustainability embedded in your values?

Strategic analysis

Where are you now and how did you get there? – Decisions and drivers.

Where are you going? – Outcome of current strategy?

What do you believe about the external environment and your capability?

How are strategy impacted by sustainability?

What are likely upsides and drawbacks from a sustainability perspective?

How does your capabilities match external sustainability trajectories?

Strategy formulation

What is your broad strategic direction?

What are your specific aims - relating to your vision?

What is the difference between objectives and prognosis, i.e., the nature and extent of the strategic challenge for the board?

What alternative directions are available?

How can you choose which is best?

How are strategy impacted by sustainability?

How are aims impacted by sustainability?

What are the sustainability related gaps

How is sustainability positioned in such alternatives? – How might it drive such alternatives?

How do you maximize value creation with the right focus on sustainability?

Strategy implementation & Operations

To be selected to deliver strategy; how can you ensure that functional area decisions, detailed actions, and the management of resources, systems, structures and culture are the best they can be?

How can you be sure it´s working and manage risk?

Are you confident that responsibility, incentives and resources for sustainability are embedded most effectively?

Are corporate responsibility related risk embedded with ordinary risk management processes?

* The Strategy decision framework, IoD (Institute of Directors)

* Additional questions considering sustainability and corporate responsibility