Building capability

Making business sense of sustainability for Zespri and Anderson Lloyd

Achieving radical resource efficiency and transforming organisations to eliminate negative impacts is not quite as easy as saying, “hey, we’re doing the sustainability thing”.  It’s like many things in life, where deciding to do something differently is one thing; but having the capability to achieve the desired result can take new skills and practice. Often, it takes a fresh mindset and a new frame of reference that can inform day-to-day decision making.

At Zespri, a review of company values really brought sustainability to the fore; with research showing that it was important to staff as well as key markets.  And yet, many teams were unclear about what it really meant for their core work.  Legal firm Anderson Lloyd faced in a similar challenge.  Having agreed that a broad focus on social and environmental impacts was the right thing to do as well as good for business, the firm’s sustainability committee realised that raising awareness amongst partners and wider legal staff at a practical level was the key to adding new business value.

Low awareness about sustainability amongst wider team members is not unusual or surprising, after all it’s a pretty nebulous term that means many things to different people.   However, it can be a bit of a handbrake when businesses want to pursue an integrated strategy that reflects an authentic approach.  For many, the first things that come to mind are saving paper or recycling waste, but these are rarely connected to core business.  It’s really at that core business level where the big opportunities are found which can underpin competitive advantage, address emerging risks and add brand value.

For clients like Zespri and Anderson Lloyd a short, entertaining and engaging training session that demystifies sustainability can quickly add a lot of value for more informed decision-making.  Using a simple, scientifically robust and principle-based definition of what true sustainability requires, enables a team to critically evaluate everything they do.  It inspires creative thinking, a solution-oriented focus and innovative design opportunities that are more resource efficient and people friendly.

After a 2-hour professional training session, the clarity in both cases was noticeable.  Lightbulbs went on and good questions were raised.  Some were concerned; they hadn’t realised the extent of the challenge ahead.  Others were inspired; there were so many opportunities to improve and add new value.  In both cases, the implications of being a sustainable business were clarified.

Like any team, implementing a new game plan takes understanding, coaching and practice.  Without that, people generally default to the way they have always played and improve only incrementally.  Transformational change takes inspiration, new information and new skills – which can be easily learnt and practiced with the right coaching and support.

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