Sustainability is not a Sprint

By Bruce Wade

I have sat in many a meeting where the agenda has included some form of discussion around sustainability. People throw out ideas for quick fixes, greenwashing, Press-pleasing and mostly ego-brushing ideas that will make the company look good in the eyes of the world.
But sustainability is not about quick fixes, it is not a sprint: sustainability is a long game an ultra-marathon. It requires planning, endurance and a legacy of implementation over many years. This agenda needs to supersede the current people in the room and look forward to others who will come after and then after that.
So, how do we set up this sort of plan in our organisation? Who do we include? Who do we exclude? Here is a simple and quick framework to help you get the most out of your next Sustainability strategy meeting.
This framework, I call FO.R.O.S.T. It is a version of a methodology I learnt many years ago that helps develop a mindset of futures thinking with a sustainability marathon at its core.
The framework asks 4 simple questions that when asked and answered form a well-structured map for your future.
1. If we had to meet here again in XX years (the number of years you select depends on your bravery to plan) and everything in our business has gone according to plan, what does it look like?
2. Taking the answer to the first question in mind, what are the risks and obstacles that we would expect to face in achieving this desired future?
3. Again, taking the answer to the first question, what current opportunities do we know of that we need to take advantage of in order to achieve our desired future?
4. What internal strengths do we have or need to develop to maximise our future and minimise the dangers?
Four simple questions, but what they reveal, if asked and facilitated well, will develop a map of information that will be advantageous to any strategic planning team.
5. Develop a simple, structured, time based accountability plan to start to deliver on these actions.
Use this information to move your team, department, or business into a sustainable future where the desired goals are so clear that everyone works towards the same destination. The future of any business should never be a surprise, it should just be a confirmation of the planning and hard work to get there.