tition fostered widespread participation to reduce energy consumption, decrease greenhouse gas emis- sions and so on.“It was a good deal for the plants as SLOANREVIEW.MIT.EDU SUMMER 2010 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW 51
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y ± they realized that the best ideas across the company would get funded,” recalls O’Brien-Bernini. Quick wins, including many environmental proj- ects that achieved payback in less than a year, helped convert many skeptics. Some of those early wins were simple and straightforward, such as installing motion sensors for light switches to minimize energy consumption. Others took more effort, as in the case of a production line that was redesigned to operate THE THREE PHASES OF A SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE As an organization moves through the phases of a sustainability initiative, its capa- bilities grow: sustainability evolves from a non-issue to a core value, and business metrics that may have been absent become robust and consistent. Unconsciously Consciously Consciously Unconsciously± Reactive Reactive Proactive Proactive± Phase 1 Early Efficient Frontier Organizational Capability Time Phase 2 Intermediate Phase 3 Advanced major home-improvement retailer that offers free haul-away of old appliances for customers who buy new ones. The company has recently been exploring refurbishing those used appliances for resale in Latin America, where they would be more energy efficient than the older models currently in use. Executives who are adept at collaboration and in- fluencing are somewhat rarer than those who are skilled at change leadership. This might be true partly because it is generally less necessary for senior leaders to collaborate than to lead change; it may also reflect these individuals’ preference for control. The right leaders for Phase 1 are driven by the need to change — supporting it, advocating it and motivating others to initiate it. Moreover, they know how to get the support of others by building enduring partnerships across the organization. To accomplish this, they frame the dialogue in terms of issues that matter to managers, delineating the elements of sustainability that register as commercially substantive risks or rewards. Phase 2 — Translating Vision Into Action Systemic Create Translate Anticipate When companies emerge from Phase 1, commercial Challenge Sustainability Vision Vision Into Action Future Needs orientation becomes the key competence in aligning • Cultivate receptiveness • Embed sustainability for • Build long-term • Persistently build operational impact partnerships sustainability initiatives and value creation, a point business • Relinquish central • Foster innovation control that cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Now the Key Executive • Change Leadership • Results Delivery • Strategic Orientation Competencies • Collaboration and • Commercial • Commercial Influencing Orientation Orientation Vernacular Data Information Knowledge Insight Foresight on significantly less pressure, which not only con-
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