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The “S” Word & What Your Company Can Do About It

Submitted by: Cortney McDermott

Posted: May 22, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Tags: sustainability, corporate responsibility, business


If you’re publishing 150-page Corporate Responsibility reports, Warning: you might not have this sustainability thing totally dialed.

We won’t solve the problem by focusing on the problem, i.e., by measuring and reporting about it. So, for example, counting your GHG emissions isn’t going to be nearly as effective as asking questions that explore why you do what you do and alternative, better ways to do it.

Earlier we learned that truly sustaining anything in business or in life requires total fulfillment and satisfaction. Yes, we can have it all. And we don’t have to sacrifice to get there. Sustainable innovation and profit will naturally result when we start putting our business, design and engineering genius to work on better questions:

What are our customers really after when they do business with us, what is the feeling they crave? What purpose does our business serve beyond profit (our “Why”) and how we can translate that into a mobilizing manifesto for our people?

It’s about problem solving through good design, and this demands we change our thinking.

So, how do we do that?

We start by unearthing our true desires. Then we focus our astounding intellect on how we can attain these things the sustainable way – in other words, the lasting way, the way that is not fleeting, the way that connects us to our real needs and values.

Take brushing your teeth, for example. Like most people, I brush my teeth multiple times daily. The feeling I’m after is a refreshed, clean mouth. Now, why should I add the following to my toothpaste: foaming agents, sugar, artificial flavoring and coloring, and a whole host of other ingredients I cannot even pronounce? Do they satisfy any of my desires or needs? Or has good marketing convinced me that I need bubbles when I brush? 

Seems pretty silly to me, when I can enjoy the same level of oral hygiene with these few simple ingredients. (Tested this recipe this morning, by the way, and my mouth feels great!)

These are the types of questions and solutions our designers, engineers, and business leaders need to be considering.

Because what we're really after is the feeling we believe the stuff will give us. Understanding that is the first step to obtaining and sustaining vibrant businesses and lives.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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