How to use innovation to accelerate your sustainability agenda

How to use innovation to accelerate your sustainability agenda

Many businesses today are working on their sustainability and purpose agendas, and are feeling overwhelmed. 

There are many regulations, legislations and frameworks which add to the confusion. Businesses are also worried about the impact of Covid and don’t want the focus on sustainability to detract from being able to boost growth and productivity.  But you can do both!  Focusing on sustainability can help re-engage existing customers, gain new customers and boost staff productivity.

Here are 5 steps to use innovation to boost growth and drive your sustainability agenda forward.

1) Focus on global challenges which are close to your business

Focusing on sustainability and embedding purpose into your business is a real opportunity to make a difference in global communities, and drive resources towards the people and issues you care about the most. It is also a fantastic way to re-engage existing customers and build a new customer base. Consumers are moving towards those brands and businesses who are focused on purpose and making a positive change in the world.  Make sure you pay attention to the challenges which will bring you closer to your customers and your staff.  Think about how this connects to your ethos and values as a company.  You should be able to clearly link your sustainability agenda to your company mission and vision.

2) Make sure it fits with your business model.

Ideally, you should choose topics that are related to your business model.  Think about when TOMS shoes first launched: for every pair of shoes sold, the company donated a pair of shoes to those living in poverty.  Ideally, your sustainability initiatives should add to your value proposition to improve your offering for your customers.  This will help attract customers, stakeholders and investors alike.

3) Utilise the resources you have.

When focusing on your sustainability agenda, think about the resources you have, from people to technology.  Also think about forming external links with partners and organisations who can help drive forward your sustainability agenda.  You may want to partner with an NGO or an expert in the field of social and environmental impact, to help you achieve your goals faster.  You can tap into their knowledge, tools and experience to help ensure your impact is more targeted and effective. 

4) Identify innovation and sustainability champions.

Identify people in your team who will drive these new areas from inception through to implementation. Think about who has the knowledge, skills, passion and drive to pursue these sustainability projects.  Champions need to be able to innovate and inspire new action and have the dedication to bring these ideas to fruition.  It will take a committed team to work together to achieve your sustainability goals over the long term.

5) Use innovation to drive your social and environmental impact!

Dedicate time, space and resources to hold innovation sessions to design new business models, systems and strategies to help achieve your sustainability goals.  Gather a range of examples, case studies and innovations which have worked successfully in your key areas of focus. Finally, consider inviting keynote speakers and experts to your innovation sessions to help provide fresh perspectives. Focusing on sustainability is a real opportunity for companies to develop their business models to one which responds to the needs of the market, their customers and drives positive change.  Reshaping the systems and models in your business, can help to reshape the world around you.

To arrange a strategy session to help develop your sustainability or purpose agenda – get in touch.
By Tanya Popeau – Director of Synthesis