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Making the Case for Sustainability


The case for sustainability and business innovation.

Business sustainability has become a new mantra for many organizations, big and small as well as a new “normal” for the innovation and profitability. For this reason the increased talk at the C-Level of many organizations is geared towards how the business can make its case in organizations with non-sustainable products and processes.

The question from most employees is “How do we present the case for sustainability to management in such a way that they reason with a holistic mindset of the long term business impact “? These are some basic steps to follow:

1. Establish a sense of urgency-

- Perception, profitability, and prosperity are keys to getting management listen to your case of sustainability.

- Analyze the current status against future implications of the products, market (both current and emerging), risks and the expectations of the stakeholders.

- Explain the benefits of action and the consequences of non-action.

2. The next course of action would be to create a coalition to guide the implementation of sustainable practices-

- Educate management used fact based methods for example, use data from companies within your industry that have adopted sustainability in their business and changes in its operations and profitability.

- Include top management influencers within the decision making team of the organization.

- Use existing employees who have started incorporating sustainable practices within their work group.

- Utilize subject matter experts to make the case for sustainability.

3. Develop a vision and strategy

- The vision here is towards a bigger purpose for the organization with particular focus on the long- term gains as well as the short-term fixes.

- Then, size the opportunities for the organization

- After which comes the outline of the risks

- Project impact on business model, product portfolio, brand and business value

4. Empower broad- based action

- Outline the organizational set up because sustainability brings with it new organizational structures and roles.

- Identify new skills needed to effectively sustain new processes and the practices

- Identify the financial needs such as budget and mergers and acquisition as needed

- Outline milestone and targets which should be tangible measureable units against the baseline prior to the implementation of sustainability

- And of course, communicate the plan to all involved and also to the broader organization so they all know the why, when, and how the project is going to be implemented.

How to Know When You Need a Consultant


A consultant is someone who’s an expert, specialist, or has a wealth of experience and knowledge in their field of specialization.

Consultants can be found everywhere and in every field imaginable. Consultants come from all types of backgrounds, such as education, social work, business (corporate, medium, and small) government, politics, law, technology, science, and so on.

Over the years consultants have become more wide spread and more respected. Formerly, consultants were only used amongst the rich and the famous – today that is no longer the case. Consultants are a highly sought after class of professionals, who are quick to be called upon when an individual or a company needs their area of expertise.

The Internet birthed the information super highway. As a result, the knowledge age originated, which requires knowledge workers and lots of them. Just as knowledge has increased, there’s an increased need for knowledge workers, of which consultants fall into that professional category. Knowledge is still power, and those who use knowledge to advance their thoughts, ideas and inventions, know its importance and are willing to pay for it.

Using the services of a consultant is beneficial to all parties. As a consultant, it’s a way to use their knowledge, experience and expertise to expand their business and services. For individuals or companies who need the consultant’s expertise, it’s a way to hire someone temporarily and save on paying a large salary with benefits and retirement packages. It’s a win – win situation for both parties.

With the expanse of knowledge now available to the average person, no one has a monopoly on certain information, but individuals and businesses need specialists who can use knowledge to advance their organizations’ plans and strategies.

Ten ways to know you need a consultant

When you have a passion to provide services or products to a targeted group, but don’t know how to file the necessary paperwork to become a licensed for profit or non-profit business, you need a consultant.
When you have a passion to provide a service or product to a targeted group of people, but know nothing about starting a business, you need a consultant.
When you have a project or business venture requiring a certain level of specialized skills and knowledge that takes your organization to the next level, and you have no one on staff with those skills and experience, you need a consultant.
When you have a major project or task, and you have a drop-dead deadline; you’re understaffed, and you need someone temporarily with specialized knowledge and skills to join the team until the project is completed, you need a consultant.
When you are working on a major funding campaign; there’s a fundraising goal and deadline to meet, yet you’re short of staff and overworked, you need a consultant.
When you are a new start-up (non-profit or for-profit) business with limited knowledge or time to run the day to day operations of your business, and you need to grow the business to succeed, yet you need an administrative system in place to maintain it and keep it growing, you need a consultant.
When you are a new or fairly new non-profit or for-profit business and you need to establish an organizational system, which requires extensive business documents, such as business plans, strategic plans, employee manuals, departmental manuals, a cadre of marketing and promotional documents that include brochures, fliers, advertisable business cards and postcards, direct mail/email announcements, website content, etc., you need a consultant.
When you have a major business problem to solve and you need someone with great analytical, critical thinking and problem solving skills, you need a consultant.
When you or your company are planning to enter into a new market (local, regional, national, or global) to expand your goods and services, and you need a cutting edge, sophisticated or grassroots public relations and marketing strategy to make it happen, you need a consultant.
When you need specialized information within a very short span of time, and you want your staff to implement the new knowledge and skills, hire a consultant to come in and train you, your staff, and your board of directors. Based on the level of knowledge needed, the training may consist of a 2 – 4 hour seminar, a 6 – 8 hour (all day) seminar; a 2 -3 day conference, workshop, or staff retreat, or a longer training time. You need a consultant.

How Statistics Have Helped Women


There are two reasons why I tend to be skeptical of statistics or anything else, until I have good reason to believe.

Firstly, I am not a very trusting person in my nature. My patron saint is really St John the Evangelist but some people think it should be St Thomas the Doubter. Well, that is fair enough, because, like Thomas, I am usually skeptical, but am open to being convinced by reason and evidence. (Remember that Thomas eventually believed in the Resurrection when he had seen the risen Christ with his own eyes).

Secondly, I have spent many years in Internal Audit and also many years dealing with liability claims. I have come across many frauds, scams, and dishonest claims. Wherever there is an opportunity to make a dishonest penny, or several, there is always someone there to make the most of it: and if every claim I have seen for tripping on the pavement was true, you ought to see someone fall down nearly every time you go out!

However, I do not distrust statistics in particular. Dishonest people use anything they can: facts, words, pictures, quotes, the Bible, and of course statistics. There are also many people who use statistics lazily and mislead others without intending to be dishonest, because they do not think clearly about what they really mean, or they have misled themselves into jumping to conclusions which the facts do not really support.

Yet all these things can be used rightly and in a way that informs rather than misleads. The Victorian Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli is supposed to have said there were “Lies, damned lies and statistics”, but the writer Andrew Lang said of someone “he uses statistics as a drunken man uses a lamp-post: for support rather than illumination”, thus blaming the user rather than the “lamp-post”. Well, I want us all to gain illumination as we use statistics whether in Risk Management or in anything else. They can help us to:

establish facts
reduce guesswork
gain a sense of proportion
identify the most important issues
find what works and what does not.

If any group of people should be grateful for statistics being used correctly, that group is women!

I can remember a time when very few women drove cars, and very few drivers were women. You did not need to look at any statistics to notice that. In those days most men thought women were definitely inferior to men as drivers, whatever else they might be good at. Insurance companies accepted this as received wisdom, and charged women higher premiums than men. Nearly all comedians had a stock list of woman-driver jokes, generally about women being easily distracted by such trivia as sales adverts in shop windows, not knowing right from left, and thinking the car’s mirror was for checking their make-up. Some men thought that allowing women to drive was even more irresponsible than given them the vote. Ironically, one woman who did not drive was especially unpopular with most male motorists: the Minister of Transport in the mid-1960′s, Barbara Castle.

The cause of women’s equality was not helped by an unfortunate and highly publicised incident. There was a bus-conductress in Yorkshire, Bradford I think. (For the benefit of younger readers, I had better explain that a bus-conductor, or if female conductress, was someone who collected fares, issued tickets and maintained order on busses. Nowadays bus-drivers are expected to do all the foregoing duties as well as driving the vehicle. The change was made in the name of efficiency.) This woman was determined to become a bus-driver, and managed to get her employers to give her all the necessary training. There was then a lot of controversy as most of her male colleagues objected, putting management in a dilemma. After much debate, they let her drive. She then had three accidents in the first three days she was on the road. Whether this was due to her lack of ability, to the stress she was under with all the controversy, or just bad luck, I do not know. I do know that this single example was quoted frequently, as if conclusive proof that women should not be allowed to drive. You will observe that a single incident, or three, hardly counts as significant statistically.

Eventually women’s self-esteem was rescued, making the comedians seek other targets, by an unlikely band of champions: insurance underwriters! These unsung heroes actually knew how to collect, analyse and interpret statistics correctly. They discovered the fact that women generally had fewer accidents than men. This information led to lower premiums being charged to women-drivers, to the amazement of most men. I will not speculate as to the reasons for this difference, I merely state a fact.

Statistics have also helped the broader movement for women’s equality, by providing factual information as to the numbers of women employed in various organisations, and their levels of pay. This has provided almost conclusive proof of the existence of the “glass ceiling” in many occupations, as well as of the unequal pay for the same or similar work in certain industries. This information has not always led to the immediate rectification of the injustices, but it has at least forced Society to face the facts and stop being in denial. You may think I have just ignored the issue of multiple factors influencing human behaviour. I acknowledge that there may be causes other than discrimination to explain some of the apparent inequalities, such as women choosing to avoid certain occupations, or disabilities genuinely preventing some people doing certain jobs. However, the statistical evidence has forced employers to accept that there is a case to answer, and that it must be answered properly, not with unsubstantiated excuses.

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