Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Similarities Between the Quality and Sustainability Movements

For those of us who lived through the Quality movement during the 1980s and 1990s, the similarities with the sustainability movement are striking. David Lubin and Daniel Esty highlight commonalities in a recent Harvard Business Review article (another good article for executives and sustainability leaders). Highlights are:

- Most corporations are flailing around with a hodgepodge of sustainability initiatives

- Sustainability, like quality, is a mega-trend for corporations for which adoption moved from defense to offensive tactics

- The sustainability movement, like the quality movement, will follow 4 stages:
1. cost and risk reduction
2. redesigned products and processes
3. revenue growth strategies
4. differentiated value propositions that provide sustained competitive advantage

- Value creation is driven through executive buy-in and execution throughout the organization. Similar to Chief Quality Officers, the Chief Sustainability Officers must lead an effort to institutionalize this new thinking and processes into the company. Critical roles for the Sustainability executive are
1. secure CEO commitment to integrating sustainability into strategy and operations
2. guide the CEO and management team through the 4 stages listed above through education, visualization of goals, specifying accountability, reward systems and tracking results and successes
3. ensure that results and best practices are disseminated widely, especially to employees
4. drive a process for developing shared goals with management and a broad set of stakeholders
5. develop key performance indicators (KPI) that support a differentiated strategy

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