Your sustainability business case

Most people agree a business case for sustainability is critical. However, the initial findings from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan Management Review 2010 sustainability survey finds nearly half of its responders have not yet developed one. But they are spending money on it anyway.

The full report is set to be release in January 2011. Check here for details. Early results include finding:

  • Forty-seven percent of those who are substantially outperforming their peers have developed a business case for sustainability.
  • Among lower performing companies, only thirty percent have developed a business case for sustainability.
  • Fifty percent of North American companies have yet to try to develop a business case for sustainability efforts, compared to thirty percent in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time potential profits are substantial. Just one example – GE has announced an expected nearly $0.5 billion of revenue in 3 years catalysed by buying (not selling) clean technology electric cars.

All of which leaves open questions. What’s holding other companies back?

A clear business case needs more than the profit numbers. For effective leading sustainability change its about managing the visible objective measured change as well as viewpoints, values and cultural world-views that sit beneath this – the invisible drivers. In other words, a sustainability case that is right for the organisation.

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One thought on “Your sustainability business case

  1. Detail on the Sustainability Survey:

    The Winter issue of MIT Sloan Management Review will feature a preview of our 2010 Sustainability and Innovation Survey survey findings, with initial analysis and accompanying interviews. The full report will be published in January, available online at our innovation hub site.

    Some of the most interesting findings to date were not only surprising, they directly contradicted our expectations. Many of our questions were designed to find out how managers and executives are making the business case for sustainability in their organizations. Others were longitudinal, repeating questions we asked in our 2009 survey to give us a sense of what is changing. Here are a few highlights:
    • Nearly half of those who have not yet developed a clear business case for sustainability are spending money on it anyway.
    • Forty-seven percent of those who are substantially outperforming their peers have developed a business case for sustainability. Among lower performing companies, only thirty percent have developed a business case for sustainability.
    • Fifty percent of North American companies have yet to try to develop a business case for sustainability efforts, compared to thirty percent in the Asia-Pacific region.
    • Employees were considered the second most influential stakeholder group driving sustainability in last year's survey. This year, they dropped to tenth place.
    We'll be digging in to the data over the next month, and look forward to sharing our findings with you online and in print in January.

    All the best,

    Nina Kruschwitz
    Sustainability Editor

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