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How To Become A Sustainable Company

A couple of years ago I proposed a formula for a Sustainable Business. You can read the post here

Since then, several organizations and businesses have picked up the formula.

The Sustainable Business formula was created in response to the call from the business world – what is a sustainable business? Is it to be compliant with guidelines?

Of course not, guidelines usually represent the bottom line, and they are seldom taking a holistic approach to business. A single-minded focus on guidelines will lead to a compartmentalization of a business. What our world needs now are holistic approaches to avoid new problems.

Another aspect is that guidelines, in a way, remove responsibilities from the rightful owner. “As long as my organization complies with guidelines, it is sustainable.” This assumption is risky. 

A genuinely sustainable company is managed and followed up on metrics related to a positive contribution of a business as well as its negative impact. This implies that the company needs to measure both the increase of its contribution to a better world as well as its decrease of negative impact

It is essential to consider the end result of the impact to measure contribution. If your mission is, let’s say, for instance, to create well-being among the elderly by a specific tool. Your metrics will be insufficient if the data is related to the amount of sold tools or the number of users of your tool. Instead, you need to measure the actual well-being of the target group.

It may take some time to find the right metrics for each specific business or organization. It may take time to understand a system. Although, it is so gratifying knowing if a business idea is relevant and if it contributes to a change. 

Nowadays, the price is set considering the value it gives to its users. Here is the key to combine business with sustainability.

Over the years, I noted the need to update the Sustainable Formula with one additional prerequisite. 

Let us first look at how the Sustainable Formula was presented earlier:

Sustainable company = 

Contributes > Negative impact

If we add the time aspect, we get:

Sustainable company =

Focus continuously on increasing contribution. The contribution needs to be bigger than > The negative impact. Focuses continuously on reducing its negative impact.

 A sustainable company is aware of its impact and role in its ecosystem/ society and strives to get as big a gap as possible between contribution and negative impact. In other words, it focuses on maximizing contribution and reducing possible negative impacts.

These prerequisites are:

1. Continuously strives to increase the gap

2. Focus on development of its collective consciousness (learning, wisdom, awareness) 

3. Acts responsibly 

4. It is aware of its place and role in its ecosystem. Also, it is aware of how it affects and influences nearby ecosystems   

Prerequisites 1, 3, and 4 were not directly outspoken as a prerequisite, but they were there from the very beginning. Over the years, prerequisite 2 was added. In a way, it is a requirement to point 1. You cannot increase the gap between contribution and negative impact, unless you increase your wisdom, increase your awareness, and increase your knowledge. Yes, this also includes an increase in consciousness.

Year’s back, in the Old Town in Stockholm, people threw garbage through their windows. It was not too convenient for the ones on the streets. Then, they came up with the brilliant idea to throw garbage into the Baltic Sea. After some time, the brilliant idea was not so good anymore. The sea got dirty. Why not use the ocean? 

The more we learn and increase our awareness, the more we get to see the whole. It is when we see the whole that we can come up with the best solutions and consider all stakeholders involved. We grow and expand our system perspective. Our challenge now is to increase our system perspective to embrace our earth and see it all as ONE system. 

What is your thought on this?