Disrupting the Business Model: Strategies for a Sustainable Enterprise

Travelling on the train from St Anton to Lausanne, it is difficult not to feel inspired by the picturesque lake views and snow-capped mountain backdrops. Among other change leaders, corporate strategists and sustainability experts, I heard the calling to see how we can address today’s sustainability challenges and turn them into business opportunities, through the use of practical innovation tools and methods. I arrive in Lausanne feeling intrigued as to what would come, which was a balance of technical content and conceptual frameworks brought to life through practical exercises and inter-active workshops.

We covered a number of topics, starting with the 17 United Nations sustainability development goals and how there is a mis-match between companies reporting that their commitment to sustainability is strong and the reality of the state of our planet. If companies want to have robust long-term strategies then they need to address the needs of society. “True Business Sustainability” is a simple way to categorise how sustainable businesses are, with the bottom of the scale being businesses that are all about the shareholders and only focus on profit to the most sustainable being businesses that make active contributions to the world’s sustainability problems. There’s a really nice cartoon to describe True Business Sustainability, which highlights some interesting (although depressing) nuggets of information, such as currently we are over-using our planet’s resources by 1.5 times.

See link: https://youtu.be/AEFqUh4PMml

The UN sustainability development goals are global goals which in many cases are too far reaching for businesses to be able to make relevant for them, for example, “end poverty, in all it’s forms everywhere”. How are companies supposed to link their business strategy to that? That’s where the Gap Frame comes in, this is a really cool piece of research that has been developed to translate the sustainability development goals into areas that are relevant to businesses and enable them to prioritise the local sustainability issues, such as health, gender equality, sustainable production and so on. For example Health is measured through indicators for child survival, sufficient food, obesity rate and alcohol abuse. Now this is really valuable, not only to make businesses aware of the local sustainable issues they are facing but also to feed into business innovation and strategy.

To learn more about the Gap Frame or if you want to become a forward thinking, truly sustainable business, get in touch heidi@conversationsforchange.info

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