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The S.W.I.T.C.H. Diamond Areas (1) – Stakeholder Readiness

The need for an interlinked stakeholder dialog approach

Over the last 15 years I’ve been involved in many multi stakeholder dialog sessions, including the GRI Guidelines development processes from G1 up to G3.1 and have been going through quite a metamorphosis myself. Being used to present a certain pre-cooked opinion deriving from a primarily hierarchy-based approach from my corporate employer (call it more lobbying for a certain outcome and being more involved to control the dynamics of early collaborative approaches than to really advance them), to learning how to open up in safe space environments under Chatham House rules (in which the person becomes more important than the function and title) up to being involved in the tremendously enlightening movement to create ‘the new’ in co-creative spaces, I developed into the personality I am today, independent in my vision, mission-driven towards our common sustainable future and further developing specific expertise while keeping an open periferal 360 degree view. What happened to me happened to millions of others as well; we took advantage of new technological developments to communicate and are able to let our voice heard everywhere around the world through the internet, using smartphones and laptops, and are curious about the feedback we get. We write blogs, make films and post them, tweet with the speed of light, and connect ourselves to even bigger networks of like-minded. Often we agree (and build relationships) or agree to disagree (and will continue to find new common  ground). I am employee, father, husband, neighbour, activist, customer, consultant, blogger, book author, and a fan of several people or groups. We all have been empowered to define ourselves as multi-connected networking people and hear the echo of ourselves through the relationships we have.

For companies this new fluidity is often still difficult to understand. Whatever happens in the world caused by a company – positively or negatively - will sooner or later be aired and could be spread as news all over the world within seconds. Whatever happens within a company is not completely secure if anyone feels a moral or ethical uneasiness with the matter and either uses whistleblowing procedures or dives into the protected sphere of e.g. Wikileaks or Openleaks. As Daniel Goleman recently said we need to get used to live in an era of ‘radical transparency’.

More and more innovative solutions or products are not developed by one company alone (either because of a lack of innovative capacity, a lack of knowledge of the real needs of customers or simply because it’s too expensive), but in networks, partially within an industry, partially cross-industry, sometimes using co-creation or open innovation processes. We also know of examples where new ideas were also designed completely out of an expected industry scope due to the non-willingness to open up.  It is indeed a challenge to understand that the whole set of stakeholders could be seen as the best R&D and sales potential any company has – if the company wants to connect.

Looking at how stakeholder dialog has emerged over the last 15 years it can be concluded that there is a visible development from scattered, patchwork-like, single-focus dialog (issue-specific) towards a more holistic, inclusive and multi-focus dialog (mission-specific). This is partially caused by the growing level of responsibility that is attributed to the increasing amount of multinational corporations (app. 70.000 worldwide) and the notion that these have way more exit option (=scenarios for decision making) than governments. The latter are often limited in their decision making power due to the lack of such exit options, e.g. a corporation can move its production from country A to B, leaving country A with more unemployed people, less national income and increased social security expense carried by the existing social system and paid by those that do have work. Also, as value chains are way more globalized and outsourcing is common practice, corporations are expected to internalise ‘shared value creation’ thinking into their business case deliberations, overcoming the perception that capitalism is antisocial and destroying out planet. There is a public expectation that corporations need to safeguard that there is ‘no loser in the value chain’. Proactive companies try to use this through exploring adaptations to their business models through ‘cradle-to-cradle’ and ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’ strategies that even go one step further and try to enhance business opportunities and to win new market shares in regions of unmatched needs.

I have witnessed how the GRI-based stakeholder dialog process undertaken to come to a material issues based sustainability report has – at least with someproactive companies – developed into a community-building, research and target-oriented joint visioning process that supports reporting. This  includes developments to co-create and test new product ideas, developing communities of ambassadors/advocats for certain products, shifts in business models that embrace stakeholders as essential part of the business model, up to new dashboards (internal) that define success not only on financial KPIs, and ongoing reporting (external) that sees dialog as on ongoing process, not focused on that one survey or workshop per year for the report. There are companies that know that the shareholders will not be happy if the stakeholders are not happy, as those are the ones that create the revenues, either directly by buying goods or indirectly by influencing the reputation of a company.  The performance of an organisation is defined by a reputational mix in which success of products and/or services are the most visual part, but other parts play a massively important role as well as we know from many examples (including e.g. social investments, governance and authentic leadership). Let’s boil it down to one essential fact: without its stakeholders a corporation is – guess- nothing.

The maturity of a stakeholder dialog process

A lot has been published on how to perform a good and holistic stakeholder dialog process, take for example UNEP’s and Accountability’s ‘From word to action: the stakeholder engagement manual’ (2005) or Jeff Senge’s latest book ‘The necessary revolution – how individuals and organizations work together to create a sustainable world’ (2008), or recently the publication of the Accountability AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (Exposure Draft). Several maturity models are available, some have three stages, e.g. the Accountabililty1000SES Exposure Draft mentions three – an emergent organisation, a strategic organisation and a civil organisation; they mirror the quality of those three stages with the three principles of the AA 1000AS (namely materiality, responsiveness and completeness), others have four, like the one developed by Deloitte (see below)

Image 1: Stakeholder dialog maturity levels (Source: Deloitte: Minding your stakeholders’ business – A strategic approach to stakeholder engagement)

The GRI G3 Guidelines mention ‘Stakeholder Inclusiveness’ as one of the four guiding principles to define material issues to be included in the report and the forthcoming G3.1. edition of the Guidelines will present a  more plan-do-check-act-oriented reporting cycle in which stakeholder inclusiveness becomes even more prominent.

The link to the other 5 S.W.I.T.C.H. Diamond areas of readiness

Let’s come back to the need to align stakeholder readiness to the other 5 areas of readiness in order to make an organization as brilliant, shiny and hard as a diamond. How will the atoms of this part of the diamond link to the others and make it unique? My comments will definitely not offer a 100% complete atomic grid and I will mainly focus on system readiness and behavioral readiness for this blog, but I think I can capture the  most important ones – you get the idea!

System readiness:  Any organisation consists of people, but their effectiveness as a group is dependent on the way they are organized to work together. In the last couple of years I got inspiration from both the environmental science (esp. the systems thinking work of Donella Meadows and Janine Benyus’ work on biomimicry are leading in my view) as well as the integrated management design (the work of Fredmund Malik of University St. Gallen and his kybernetic thinking are very enlightening). One important way to stabilize an organisation’s systems is by closing feedback loops, so I applied this as the glue that keeps the diamond’s atoms together. With regard to the aspect of stakeholder readiness and the most important systems and subsystems one can think for example of:

  • Governance: does the organization have processes in place to allow stakeholders to offer their views to the right level of people, at the right moment in time (to drive effectiveness and change) and in the right format, e.g. is there a stakeholder expert panel that can directly report to the decision-makers (like e.g. at Shell)? Is there a process in place to define stakeholders, map their material issues and mirror it with the company’s interests? Is there a screening in place that supports finding the right stakeholders (their level of influence, sort of representation, skills to engage)?
  • Management system: Are processes defined to infuse stakeholder feedback beyond the usual cutomer-product centricity of an ISO 9001/9004 approach? How do the ISO 14000 series standards and the new ISO 26000 play into a larger scope of stakeholder interests and how is information fed back in the organzation’s knowledge system? How deeply are stakeholder interests really interwoven in EFQM or Malcolm Baldridge enabler and results parts, are the necessary feedback loops in place?
  • Risk management: is there a risk mapping process in place that puts all stakeholder interest into a risk and organisation’s specific context and do these also absorb feedback from stakeholder dialog? How do the issues impact legal, financial and reputational risks and do stakeholders have the same view? Are any of the company risks discussed with stakeholders at all?
  • Strategy development: is there a strategy in place how to increase the level of maturity of the stakeholder engagement process? Will different stakeholder groups be approached differently? In how far will stakeholders be instrumental in the deliberations on business models?
  • Innovation: how will the results of the stakeholder engagement be communicated to product/service development? Will stakeholder be included in the development process? Is there a view how far the organizations wants to move in what part level of maturity?
  • Data management: Good stakeholder engagement will be underscored by factual data coming from surveys, questionnaires and independent studies. Has the organization systems in place to have this information collected, aggregated and anlyzed as a basis for further informed stakeholder engagement?
  • Management information system: Are there dashboards that take into account overall stakeholder satisfaction? Is there a balanced scorecard approach, is there integration in customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction or an overall reputational assessment in place that feeds back into the scorecard?
  • Other system readiness indications that merit laying the right links to stakeholder readiness: internal auditing, investor relations, finance and investments, knowledge management and communication

Behavioral readiness: A major threshold that organisations need to overcome is to understand the value of stakeholder readiness and that the organisation’s advocates actively be involved in stakeholder engagement need to understand the value of transparency and the awareness of the context (understanding and being ale to respond to changes in the external environment), complexity (having the skills to survive and thrive in situations of low certainty and low agreement) and connectedness (ability to understand actors in the wider political landscape and to engage and build relationships with new kinds of external partners). EABIS and Ashridge College already pointed this out in their study ‘Developing the global leaders of tomorrow’ in 2009. The stakeholder readiness therefore needs to find its echo in:

  • The paradigm under which Human Resources need to continue to build future readiness: Elaine Cohen’s mentions in her book  ‘CSR and HR’ that Human Resources need to move away from focussing activities  ON the impact on employees towards the impact OF employees (in the workplace, marketplace, community and the environment)’, with consequences for
  • Employee training and development to be stakeholder-ready, e.g. through widening the concept to ‘employability’ (broadening the scope to help build value-adding members of society and by that already implicitely build so-called  ‘shared value’), implementation in personal development plans, talent management processes, career counselling, mentoring, etc.) and implementation in transition management. Each employee is also a stakeholder and needs to be trained on the variety of stakeholder views and techniques how to react to them. These people may remain ambassadors for the compay even after they left!
  • Employee communications: learning to use the power of social media for CR 2.0 stakeholder dialog (blogs/vlogs etc.), accepting the benefits of co-creation, crowdsourcing (e.g. take a look at the PepsiCo Refresh Program), train people on stakeholder dialog skills, convergence of internal and external communications. Each employee is both loyal and activistic and is a potential change catalyst.
  • Ethical business: employees need to be very well trained and ‘live’ the organisation’s Code of Ethics and underlying correspnding systems, structures and staffing for remedy activities in case of non-compliance.
  • Leadership Development: If leaders don’t actively take part and claim responsibility in stakeholder dialog the authenticity is at stake. I have personally seen approaches where top management thought they could delegate this to staff. These approaches  will create a disconnect as top management responsibility for stakeholder dialog cannot be delegated. If the board members of a corporate are not the most authentic protagonists in their stakeholder dialog process, something is wrong with their approach!

Product and service readiness: Closing feedback loops from stakeholder dialog carries an enormous potential for the development of products and services. A lot of specific research is done to assess clients needs and new strategies are tried out, including cradle-to-cradle strategies, bottom-of-the-pyramid strategies (to also expand into new markets) and strategies that put functional perspectives upfront (e.g. product lease). In normal situations life cycle analysis takes into account the full product-specific footprints including suppliers, product use and takeback. New and in combination with these approaches are open innovation platforms, co-creation networks, cross-industry learning and exchanges that allow enlarged and new perspectives. Stakeholder dialog can be linked to these approaches as well, some of them may want and should be involvd in these new appoaches. There is no one size fits all to closing that gap, but it would be a mistake not to lay the link.

Infrastructure readiness: A company’s assets are essential for the delivery of products and services. They are a visible and factual representation of parts of an organisation’s environmental and social footprint. Many stakeholder relations, but also issues, are caused by local or regional infrastructural assets, think of soil contamination, noise reduction needs, social dependencies of worker’s families, worker’s rights issues, local supply chain dependencies, community investment, philanthropic asks, etc. It is amazing to see how much corporate officers often fully neglect these infrastructures and the signals these assets send on local level. How many people from corporate procurement, marketing & sales, investor relations, PR and even strategists have never seen one of their company’s sites from near or inside – I can tell you that you will be astonished. But stakeholder dialog happens there as much as on corporate level, so stakeholder readiness needs to take that into account and think about the different sorts of dialogs on various levels.

Summary

A systemic, worldwide, integrative, transparent, collective and holistic approach needs to be designed, taking into account all stakeholder needs. Well-designed stakeholder dialog on various levels of the organisation and using the best feasible means per stakeholder group are both a safeguard of the needed responsiveness to be a trusted societal partner as well as exploring completely new business ideas in times of growing disruption on energy, resources and food. The common stakeholder dialog processes normally do not connect all the dots and often fail to increase the value of a corporate knowledge management approach. Stakeholder readiness however will go that one step further. At minimum there will be a close connection to reporting and communication, lobbying and other networking. The S.W.I.T.C.H. Diamond recommends a deeper layer of connections, glueing the many other atoms together and let the diamond shine.

My next blog will focus on the S.W.I.T.C.H. Diamond from the behavioral readiness side.

As always I appreciate responses to this blog, as well as additions and concerns. Have I missed anything, do you have examples to support or disagree with my views? Simply let us all know!

Stay tuned !

See earlier posts on the S.W.I.T.C.H. paradigm and diamond:

1) So what is S.W.I.T.C.H.?

2) The S.W.I.T.C.H. Diamond – an analogy for success in sustainability and becoming future-ready

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2011 in S.W.I.T.C.H.

 

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The S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond – an analogy for success in sustainability and becoming ‘future ready’

The first blog in 2011 is the already announced continuation of my earlier blog in which I explained S.W.I.T.C.H. – my view of the essentially needed ‘paradigm dimensions’ to understand sustainability; in total I described six of them (http://aheadahead.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/so-what-is-s-w-i-t-c-h/). Whenever I am assessing the sustainability approach of an organization I am more or less looking at the ‘future readiness’ of this organization and the way they have given shape to an operationalized approach on how to follow the six S.W.I.T.C.H. paradigm dimensions. After many different trials and having seen many different existing assessments, the ‘S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond’ crystalized as a visual expression of my assessment, a hexagon shape that carries ‘six areas of readiness’.

Why a diamond?

Well, the hexagon shape of my early drawings automatically made the impression to look like some sort of a diamond. But the more I thought about it the more I loved the idea, simply because a diamond is also an expression of desires, value and longevity. ‘Diamonds are forever’ as they say, and isn’t that what we want to achieve in sustainability as well – seeing our planet as a precious, beautiful and long lasting home for all species?

There are a couple of additional remarks to make about the diamond idea. First of all a rough diamond will only reveal its full beauty when all sides of it have been grinded and polished to perfection, an attraction, a seduction, a must-have. It will not absorb and reflect light as it could if parts of it are left untreated.  The same is true for the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond: just dealing with one or the other ‘area of readiness’ will leave patchwork and the approach towards sustainability will be ineffective, in danger to be seen as greenwashing, and most likely not understood.

Secondly, there is the art to present a nice diamond, the genius jeweller’s touch to find the right symbiosis to create a mounted jewel and therewith making it a complete artwork, together with the ring. I see the parallel  with the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond in that the ‘areas of readiness’ are surrounded by the six ‘paradigm dimensions’, giving it the necessary embedding.

Thirdly, there is the ring itself which enables the owner to develop the personal bondage with the diamond, this unbelievable feeling of care and the pride to wear the precious ring, becoming ONE and in the end BECOME part of the artwork. Without the ring, the diamond would remain simply something to look at, but will remain somehow ‘disconnected’, a pure investment in a bank safe or under glass in a museum. Translated to the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond idea it means that the ring represents all of us who bond with the idea of a holistically implemented sustainability identity in an organization, meaning that those organisations will be more ‘attached’ to us, and BECOME part of our wanted identity as a people. We support them by our willingness to buy their goods, support them through governments through the right sort of recognition (including financial and tax support), support them from society urging for more transparency and better education, and support them through the academic and professional institutions that will help to translate sustainability into new measures of success and standards.

Fourthly, diamond is the hardest natural material known, where hardness is defined as resistance to scratching, which is graded between 1 (softest) and 10 (hardest) using the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Diamond has a hardness of 10 on this scale.  Therefore, whereas it might be possible to scratch some diamonds with other materials, the hardest diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds. Related to S.W.I.T.C.H. the parallel is clearly that those rock-solid approaches by the proactive companies are those that can’t be scratched by the short term lobbyism and interest of others. These organizations have it ‘crystal clear’ given the holistic approach towards sustainability they took, an atomic strucure which connects the areas of activity in which people unfold the robustness of the approach.

One last point, let’s say a disclaimer: I am very aware that diamonds have a bad connotation in the sustainability community given the shameful abuse of mine workers, producing what is called ‘blood diamonds’. It has taken the mining industry a long time to approach this shameful practice, but examples like the ‘Kimberley Process’ show that there is willingness to address necessary change. Let’s park this here, o.k.?

The six ‘areas of readiness’

Back to the six ‘areas of readiness’ of the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond, which you can see in the image below; they are surrounded by the six ‘paradigm dimensions’, forming the ‘mounted jewel’. Working on all six areas of readiness is necessary to adhere to a systemic, worldwide, integrated, transparent, collaborative and holistic approach to achieve ‘future readiness’ and being sustainable. Working on these six areas doesn’t have to happen in parallel, but logical through a well thought-through roadmap approach. The idea is that the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond can be applied to generically all kinds of organizations, but surely best practice in different sorts of organizations is just natural – something that needs to be further explored later on this blog.

Figure 1: The S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond with the six ‘paradigm dimensions’ and the ‘ six areas of readiness’

Product and service readiness directly relate to the purpose of the existence of the organization, meaning their direct output to clients and society, so how an organization serves us all. Infrastructure readiness covers the material assets and additional throughput needed to be able to produce outputs; those have their own footprints and impacts, and many of them are not subsumed in the assessments of wanted output. Behavioral readiness has to do with the way human beings treat and respect each other inside the organisation, but also how to relate with all other human beings outside the organisation that have a stake in the organisation, may it be direct or indirect. System readiness and stakeholder readiness are partially the outcome of behavioral readiness, but vice versa can also contribute to increased behavioral readiness. System readiness, stakeholder readiness and behavioral readiness are the enabling areas that help structure the other three areas of readiness and make sure the result is ‘a diamond’. They are the sort of coding how all the atoms have to be placed to produce the shiny diamond that is so extremely hard. Finally, future readiness is the outcome of the teamplay of all the areas of readiness.

The following blogs will cover each of the six areas in more detail: what are the issues that need to be covered in all of them to make an organization sustainable and what work programs derive from them? Many of them are by far not new, but they will only work if they are logically interlinked with each other (again the analogy to the atom structure of the diamond). For example: how to think about a cradle-to-cradle strategy if the overall need of it is not clear to top- and mid-management and not rewarded. How will this work if the organization has no proper view of the needs from stakeholder involved? How will it be possible to manage such a program if the right data are not available, not organized, or simply not right? And finally, how should this work if the infrastrucure of the organization has a high ecological or social footprint?

A note of caution at the end: While the S.W.I.T.C.H. diamond tries to accurately capture the different areas in which an organization needs to move (and remain open-minded at any moment, securing progress at any time) the next question normally is ‘but where do I start’? Many top managers will prefer the product and service area because that’s where the money is made and where in their view ‘ the rubber hits the road’! My view is different: I learnt myself that sustainability has so much to do with trust and authenticity that I recommend to first look at the enabling areas: system readiness, stakeholder readiness and behavioral readiness. The better they have been managed, the quicker and more effective the organization will in the end make steps towards infrastructure readiness and product and service readiness. I’ll therefore start with stakeholder readiness, so stay tuned!

If you like to comment on the idea, the areas, the logic so far presented, please do so! I do see my blogging as an open discussion in which all of us can learn and an invitation to contribute!

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2011 in S.W.I.T.C.H.

 

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So what is S.W.I.T.C.H.?

Since I started thinking about sustainability and corporate responsibility some 20 years ago I have read so many reports, studies and surveys that tried to make us understand what these words now actually mean, one could think that the penny should have dropped after such a long time. But when talking to the different levels of management, function specialists and people from different cultural backgrounds I realize that these words are still blurry terms to many. They miss a framework that helps them to translate their meaning into a daily ‘ cooking book’ of do’s and don’ts. I was wondering if I should add another definition to the discussion, but since I made such good experience with what I call the S.W.I.T.C.H. framework, I dare to do so. Let me explain in two steps: first the general explanation of sustainability and corporate responsibility in my view, and second what S.W.I.T.C.H., that derived from this thinking, means to me – and hopefully to you as well soon.

So what is sustainability and corporate responsibility?

  • Sustainability is a paradigmthat tries to find the right balance between economical, ecological and social interests, globally, regionally and locally, and between different constituencies.
  • Sustainability is a blueprint for the successful management of globalization. There is simply no sustainable business on a dead planet, nowhere!
  • Sustainability urges for long-term thinking –short-term focus leads to long-term loss for all. The pattern so far: wins are privatized, losses are socialized, a dilemma why the idea of markets for sustainability will only work if the – still to be set – market boundaries will focus on balancing out this dilemma through pricing signals.
  • Corporate responsibility is the management task to translate the paradigm of sustainability into a concrete vision, mission, as well as policies, strategies, business models, programs and success measures of an organization. CR doesn‟t equal philanthropy, but can be part of a CR strategy.
  • Corporate responsibility asks for an integrated and holistic approach to define the role and responsibilities of an organization, informs responsible sourcing, producing, life long stewardship for the impacts created, marketing and branding and clarifies the individual contributions of staff and management towards sustainability.
  • The understanding of “stakeholders” and their active integration into the organization‟s value chain is essential. Partnerships become key for solving crucial sustainability challenges: „we’re all in this together‟…
  • Last but not least corporate responsibility is the ‘only way’ to transition from maintaining a license to operate towards developing the long-term license to grow. There is simply no other way.

Alltogether this may not sound so different from the hundreds of other definitions that you have heard before about sustainability and corporate responsibility, but I am amazed that the simple split between sustainability as the more macro/global paradigm to suceed as a human race and corporate responsibility as translator , cradle for an innovative path forward, and precondition for securing the survival of an organization is often not understood, but becomes much clearer after having mentioned those points.

What does S.W.I.T.C.H. stand for?

S.W.I.T.C.H. is a reminder of the mental switch we need to make to be able to survive. We are simply at the beginning of drastic eruptions in the industrial landscape, see my blog about the 6th Kondratiev cycle (in the ‘back to basics’ series), partially caused by of all sorts of distortions or even non-existing market signals. Looking at the impacts we cause we are dealing with this planet like a company in liquidation. That needs to end, our window of opportunity is slowly closing. Therefore only the combination between technological change AND behavioral change will help us out of the squeeze.

But S.W.I.T.C.H. itself is also an abbreviation that carries more detailed ‘reminders’ of what an organization should think about when they transform their business towards being future-ready:

S: All business transformations need to take into account the need for systemic change, esp. those industries that are very resource-intense. Remember: To be less bad is not good enough any more. Also, let’s not forget that many industries are dependent from each other, so working through the complete value circle (forget chains) is essental. There is a reason that cradle-to-grave or even cradle-to-cradle strategies are becoming so prominent.

W: Macroeconomic trends have implications worldwide and everywhere, a too narrow perspective (either in one industry or regionally) is counter-productive. Constant learning, updating and reacting is essential, working with scenarios are needed to take these into account. Serious gaming will become a mature technology and tooling to visualize these effects for a company-specific environment.

I: Corporate responsibility asks for integrated strategies. It needs to become part of the genes and the DNA, part of the ‘everything we do’ in an organization; patchwork and add-ons will not deliver the necessary performance and speed needed to be called a winner in the race for ‘ future-readiness’. There is now an inflation of the ‘genes and DNA’ talk by many CEOs; honestly, I don’t know any organization that has already fully found the right genes to be both ready on the ‘technicalities’ side and the ‘behavioral’ side of the challenge (apart from maybe those that have actually started their business out of the need to cure certain environmental or social shortcomings), and I really hope most of the CEOs should be very careful using these terms already.

T: Transparency ist simply the basic fundament that enables sustainable change. Transparency enables trust, trust enables partnerships, and only those enable continuous improvement and carry the potential to create and develop new business models. The scrutiny towards non-disclosure grows and the opportunity costs to hide will become too expensive, the reputational damage too high to dare not to be transparent. If an organization doesn’t look after it, somebody else will! The old saying counts: ‘If you’re not around the table, you’re most likely on the menu!’ Authenticity, a basic ingredient for success, will only derive from being transparent. That includes that cherry-picking communication is highly questionable and a balanced strategy towards stakeholder information needs must include admitting the shortcomings as well as mentioning of dilemmas. Some may be solvable together and everynow and then ‘agreeing to disagree’ at least helps to clarify the gaps.

C: Corporate responsibility is a collective task from top-down and from botton-up. An integrated strategic approach needs to take into account the driving forces that both directions can enable. There is a constant need to showcase that the organization cares and ‘practices what it preaches’. This as well will add to the authenticity!

H: Sustainability teaches us to understand the challenge in front of us from a holistic perspective. This also helps to clarify roles, responsibilities and ‘reasons to be’ for an organization in a society. Therefore the views of all stakeholders need to be taken into account. There is no ‘them and us’, there should only be ‘we’.

If you take those ‘reminders’ seriously you will find great value in assessing your current business model based on S.W.I.T.C.H.. But how to make sure you’re not forgetting important parts in your assessment? In my next blog I will present to you the S.W.I.T.C.H. ‘ diamond’, a high level dashboard for companies, a starting point to get ‘future-ready’. As this will be a full series of half a dozen blogs, please refer to all of them in the extra category on S.W.I.T.C.H. on this blogsite.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2010 in Towards 'sustainomics'

 

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