Succeeding on Sustainability (SoS): Innovation is Key

Innovation is the key to business success in corporate sustainability programs.

A recent report on corporate sustainability practices worldwide found that the most common theme among successful sustainability programs is innovation. This has been central to InnovaStrat’s approach for several years.

The kind of sustainable innovation we are talking about is not just research and development. While this is significant, what matters even more is sustainability-driven innovation around business practices. The report concluded that this kind of innovation is most important.

Our framework on sustainable innovation provides a structured way in which sustainability can drive business innovation in supply and demand chains, product lifecycles, business models, new platforms that lead to next practices, and other business processes.

In our experience, the following is the key difference to getting business value from sustainability and making it central to business:

Do you take a reactive stance by playing defense with sustainability?
Or do you take a proactive stance by playing offense and view sustainability as a driver of new and innovative business opportunities?

The vast majority of companies, especially beyond the Fortune 200, take a reactive approach. If investors and customers are putting pressure to innovate on sustainability, senior management is willing to pay attention. Otherwise, they are content with championing compliance and wait for the rest until stakeholders turn up the pressure.

The proactive companies don’t wait for these stakeholders to make sustainability an issue. They know that mindsets and models take time to change. If they get started now, they’ll have a competitive edge when the market changes. It is this kind of an open mindset that makes a difference in business leadership.

Ultimately, it is this kind of a mindset that maximizes the business value of sustainability and makes it central to business.

In the end, innovation in mindsets around sustainability drives innovation in business practices.

It’s rewarding to know that the latest research by other leading organizations validates what we have been seeing all along.