The Sustainability Dashboard: How to Implement and Leverage Unexpected Solutions

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It’s not what we know that gets us in trouble, it’s what we know for sure that just isn’t the case – Mark Twain

The way we do things today will end up being different from the way we will do them twenty, fifty or even a hundred years from now. As investors and stakeholders impose ESG reporting expectations on companies, visionary CEOs are leveraging ESG to propel their companies into the future. They are the leaders who drive multinational operations and supply chains to design businesses for a future circular economy.

Doing better is not the same as doing better

Economist Herbert Simon once said, “An efficient individual is one who rationally attempts to maximize the achievement of some end with the use of scarce means.” By this definition, our daily lives are littered with examples of “efficiency gone wrong” such as solar/photovoltaic cells, pesticides, gold mining, hydraulic fracturing, supply chain redundancies. supply and industrial agriculture.

When most of the products we use today were first designed, in many cases over a hundred years ago, we had no idea of ​​their impact on the environment. Today, our interconnected and global supply chains are more advanced than ever with machine learning models providing businesses with predictive analytics on supply and demand. Meanwhile, global supply chains are facing disruptions with rising political unrest due to this competition for resources as well as the increased frequency of extreme weather. With capital embedded in existing systems and leading companies ill-equipped to deal with these environmental threats, we now realize that some things are certain.

To continue to accept these realities is nonsense.

To do nothing against them is obscenity.

Failing to take advantage of the unexpected solutions that sustainability offers would be humanity’s greatest missed opportunity.

The sustainability dashboard and the unexpected solutions it offers

Before we dive into design solutions for the future, it helps to understand what we design for. What do we want the next 50 to 100 years to look like?

The status quo tells us that durability is a trade-off for quality or efficiency, ultimately costing more for a poorer experience. In our vision of the future, sustainably designed products perform better than unsustainable ones, with increased efficiency and quality.

We need to redesign our products and processes to be environmentally friendly and non-toxic. Anything less is neither effective nor profitable in the long run. In other words, it’s unsustainable, financially and otherwise.

In other words, economic activity of any kind must be designed to encompass the four principles of managing and scaling sustainability:

  1. Waste prevention
  2. Optimized efficiency and performance
  3. Renewability of inputs
  4. Safe degradation

These principles act as design constraints, elements that must be incorporated into the product or process – and this is what results in unexpected solutions, sometimes even groundbreaking innovations, such as the world’s first carbon-negative vodka created in from carbon dioxide in the air. In fact, the most compelling argument for including sustainability in an enterprise-wide business strategy may well be to capitalize on the unexpected value that traditional business practices leave on the table.

The Sustainability Dashboard – this book and the metrics – explains how to do things better (i.e. sustainability) better (i.e. profitably). In this book, we explore designing sustainable products and scaling green innovations profitably through reduced operating costs, expanded market share, new service lines and our core focus area: transforming the supply chain and sourcing models to drive the most consistent and highest long-term value. . We’ll show you not only that it’s possible, but that it’s already being done by leading companies all over the world! Through our deep dive into unexpected solutions, we’ll show you how you can use our repeatable, data-driven framework to integrate sustainability into your overall business strategy and profit from it.

There are several dashboards that address the economics of climate change/business decision making, however, none of them are science-driven. The Sustainability Scorecard is the first science-based, data-driven methodology for strategic and sustainable transformation. It guides organizations in designing a healthy, circular (i.e. restorative and replenished by design) and efficient future to leverage the climate economy, which we see as the biggest business opportunity. From our era.

No, companies don’t use toxic materials simply because they are much cheaper than harmless materials and no, green products don’t need to cost more for a worse experience. It is simply the wrong thinking that has led to the wrong conception of our present. The shortcomings of current tools related to supply chain transparency, understanding the effect of renewables not only on emissions but also on product design and end-of-life, and taking into account of product performance according to a triple bottom line, is exactly where our scorecard fits in. scientific categories differentiate our dashboard from others, right from the start. We focus on waste prevention (in which we recommend a proactive assessment of future waste conducted in the design phase), maximizing efficiency and performance (with an expanded definition of performance where social and are tracked), resource renewability (where we focus on supply chain inputs and, therefore, legacy inputs) and safe degradation (where we attempt to design a life after safe and benign death for products and processes).

Each part of this dashboard has its own legend; however, we will describe it much more in a separate chapter.

We understand that innovation in large companies is different from more agile startups which are able to pivot their strategies and products based on demand and capture value more immediately. And while large companies have several advantages for developing innovation, they face the challenge of integrating capital (financial and human) into established processes. That’s why we’ve dedicated a chapter to ways large organizations can start their sustainability journey, including launching pilot programs and using walk-in replacements, before scaling up product lines. of services using the indicators of the sustainable development dashboard.

For small businesses, start-ups and investors looking for their next big bets, we identify emerging sustainable technologies that we plan to commercialize and scale in the next 50-100 years. Businesses and investors can leverage the sustainability dashboard to assess these technologies, including whether the new solution avoids waste, is maximally efficient and effective, uses renewable inputs, and safely degrades, to understand its true value proposition.

Our promise to you

In this book, we walk you through the details on how to assess, implement, and scale unexpected solutions with the goal of maximizing your financial, environmental, and social outcomes.

We identify inherently sustainable solutions that really move the needle when it comes to financial, environmental and social factors. We provide a framework for your business to identify truly innovative and inherently sustainable products versus “less bad” products and processes that may not deliver the exponential value that breakthrough products can deliver.

The sustainability dashboard was written for operations and strategy leaders who love the idea and value proposition of sustainability, but don’t feel like they have the bandwidth to implement and scale these changes in their business. You do it, one step at a time. This is how the Sustainability Scorecard solves one of the biggest challenges for companies: how to continue to operate with a cost conscience while investing in the future. Start by using the dashboard to identify and initiate small transformations in your operations, then use it to guide future decisions and strategies to keep your business moving towards ever-increasing sustainability and surprisingly innovative and valuable solutions. .


Written by Urvashi Bhatnagar.
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