Rachel is a Systemic-Change Coach & Executive Mentor; APAC CXM CGO, and DEI & Sustainability Champion at Dentsu.
Henry Ford once said, “If it doesn’t add value, it’s waste.” Surely, all that is consumed from our Earth to create a better life is not a waste. But when we selfishly waste it for profits, that is a crime—at least to the next generations. As a corporate achiever who has helped many multinational corporation (MNC) clients generate those profits for the last 25 years, let me—and my fellow boomers/Gen X leaders—say that we are so sorry to the next generations.
We have come to a point of no return but a hopeful awakening and urgent intervention of quick systemic change toward a circular net-zero economy. It is, therefore, now a repenting responsibility for all business leaders to reframe value and participate in the making of the circular economy.
With consumers’ voices rising toward greener products and employees demanding more purposeful work, it pays off to be aware of sustainability policies to help shape a net-zero economy. Why not allow these seismic pivotal forces to birth forth new, wiser and timelier ways of operating and profiting?
This is an urgent call for all businesses to pivot from the inside out and be aligned with ESG (environmental, social, governance) principles—thus, policies—in conjunction with the emergence of regenerative experiences (RX).
Based on the current shifts, there is a required systemic change ahead for greater transformation in businesses. We’ll soon learn that various business key stakeholders will be demanding of it, and in delight of it for those who are already on the journey for the greater good.
Why Not Let ESG And RX Be Your Pivotal Business Imperative In 2023 And Beyond?
As a sustainability and ESG pioneer, I hope to impart my 5 Sustainability Strategic Pillars to help you/us begin a necessary systemic change:
1. Consider your corporate existence as a PDO (purpose-driven organization).
It’s necessary to reframe your corporate vision in relation to a “value to serve” mindset. Make sure the gaps and needs you fulfill—as they relate to the shifting of economic and systemic changes—are clear.
Even better, make sure your vision inspires a shared purpose for your ecosystem partners and employees, including your board of directors. Consider embracing a PPP (public-private partnerships) business model, with clarity on how you can contribute to bringing purpose to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs), in addition to your current business model.
2. Wire your people on authentic cultural DNAs.
It is disheartening to still see a top-down culture statement with values superficially communicated and on display but with no ownership today. Purpose-washing and greenwashing are sinful for the Digital Genesis era and will soon have legal repercussions. These practices are also likely to lead to your very dearest customers and employees boycotting you.
How do you want your people to work and collaborate on what counts? Is your corporate culture and DNA clear? Are your ways of thinking and ways of working aligned, based on how your people would operate as brand ambassadors? Your corporate culture sets your corporate identity inside out (never outside in), even more than your brand’s blueprint or external communications to your key stakeholders.
Let your redefined shared purpose inspire people to contribute to shaping your cultural DNA to operate innovatively, passionately and liberally. I personally believe this approach would bind the hearts and souls of people.
3. Make your sustainability commitment real.
Most MNC leaders understand the what on commitments for external communications and public declarations, such as net-zero commitment and science-based targeting and even having a timeline to facilitate these efforts, which are all commendable and a great start.
As for the why and essentially how for progress, this is where the need is now for coaching, advisory and solutioning. With the why clearly defined, it would help empower ownership with impact initiatives along with resources for a systemic-change program, and for accountabilities and collaborations across the organization and the value-chain partners.
The how makes efforts real by execution. Make sure there’s access to a common digital platform that tracks and traces measuring good progress with outcomes achieved. This further permits the orchestrations and accelerations at scale of the overall target across scopes 1, 2 and 3 to be achieved as a road map and execution plan toward commitment.
4. Align your corporate performance scorecard (+KPIs) with ESG context.
As the old saying goes, “what gets measured gets done”—so much so that all enterprises, including startups, are constrained by KPIs to the point of limiting innovation. This needs rethinking.
Having clear ownership to shape new KPIs appropriately alongside a systemic-change program is necessary. Merely redefining KPIs without a change program will not deliver any outcome. It’d be no more than superficially putting measures on paper.
Change fundamentally requires a mindset shift first to fire and wire new neuron pathways. Then, a new behavior can be established in the system with collective habits. Essentially, the change needs to happen at the people level and at scale to be effective for performance measures. This needs to be coached and celebrated systemically with milestones rather than mechanically expecting a miracle overnight.
Mapped sustainable development goals (SDGs)—from visioning to executions with measures—will amplify corporate embracing the purpose and values aligning to the ESG context.
5. Differentiate your living products/services with a regenerative experience (RX).
Revisit your go-to-market’s 4P’s: product, price, place and promotion. Consider the carbon footprint impact on the longevity of your products/services as a business outcome for RX. This requires much regenerative-by-design thinking beyond just a siloed marketing element. In this way of thinking, all 4P’s come together innovatively, enabled by data tech and interconnected digital platforms across the industrial value-chain ecosystem that is circular on purpose.
These pillars will help to fundamentally change your business and revenue models as a breakthrough yet strategic move.
With the rise of digital, offerings are no longer constrained to just the physical products repeatedly manufactured at mass with a heavy carbon footprint. Find ways to increase serviceability for longer customer lifetime and value you truly desire!
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