The Sustainability Imperative


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The Sustainability Imperative


Authors stressed the importance of sustainability participation by the companies similar to the big trends and need for the Quality and IT in each and every business function, employee and business line towards achieving the competitive advantage. Based on the research, authors mentioned that Sustainability is an evolving mega-trend, and it is possible to predict the course to certain extent. Authors took the basis of earlier megatrends successes in IT and Quality and guiding managers to understand the ways on crafting the systems and strategies towards gaining competitive advantage through sustainability participation.

Organizations which are looking for gaining competitive advantage through sustainability program need to balance inventive green product submissions and business models through the execution of strategy.


Authors narrated the value creation process with four stages. Stage 1 deal with doing the old things in new type of ways. Companies’ emphasis deal with outstripping challengers and competitors on environment improvement and regulatory compliance with the focus on linked costs and risk reduction management. The Stage 2 of the value creation process is doing new things in new type of ways. Companies participate in extensive re-design of processes, products, and the total systems to boost efficiencies of natural resource utilization and management of risk among their value chains. The Stage 3 of the value creation process is transforming core business. With the expansion of Vision further and further over time, new income and growth opportunities sources will improve through sustainability innovations. The Stage 4of the value creation process deals with creation of new business model and improving differentiation.

At the upper level of the organization, companies utilize the sustainability as a megatrend for differentiation purpose in their business model, employee engagement, company brand and additional items which are intangibles and there by basically repositioning the firm and re-defining their strategy towards competitive advantage.

Authors predict in near future all the firms will dive into managing sustainability after clearly understanding it as a mega-trend and necessity as a business mode for survival and competitive advantage. They expect the development of sustainability firm score cards and industry score cars for industry comparisons and best practices as a basic bench mark will develop. This will also allow companies to monitor cost involved in this process, reduction of risk and evaluating the value creating process and actions.

Authors expects soon the data collection of environmental performance will become more accurate and with rich information for analysis. This will enable the firms to review the impacts in terms of financial terms so that it will be easier for market analysts to review and recognize the companies that are in a position to offer and deliver an eco-premium. In near future, around the globe, the sustainability strategy imperative will be structured, organized and incorporated in to the day to day operating function of all companies of different sizes in all type of industries. Same like Quality and IT mega-trends, sustainability will be involved in every function of the operation in all firms. Towards the path of future survival, companies with a proper vision and strategy execution capacities to organize and pilot the sustainability mega-trend will lead the way and those companies which don’t involve will be left out in the process and vanish.

Authors stressed that the gaining of competitive advantage in the sustainability mega-trend is not only about the vision, but also about the execution of the vision in five important areas of methods, leadership, management, strategy, and reporting. In each function and arena, firms need to change from an ad hoc, calculated, and siloed methods to systematic, strategic, and unified front.

Authors explained well on building a Sustainability Performance System by amalgamation of the vision with sustainability value creation method, that is, the what we must do, with developing execution competences, that is, the how we must do it.


We at our Company, has intensified the sustainability program. Being a metal can manufacturer, we need to lead in sustainability program in metal recycling, BPA experiment, carbon foot print reduction with steel mill, cost and metal saving, exhaust control from the plants, water and gas reduced utilization, reuse of water, etc. also, working with charity organizations towards collection of metal cans for recycling and promoting less land fill through the community organizations.

Fred David in his book on Strategic management chapter 10 explains very well on sustainability and its importance in the current and future business. He analyzed why the organizations need to go green and explained the reasons of high consumer demand for safe items environmentally, pressure through environmental advocacy, regulations, liability suits and so on. Also, author explained well need for proactive approach rather than reactive approach by the firm environmentally and have a plan for a minimum environmental strategy. Author is also in detail explained about the ISO 14000 and firms need to certify for future business survival. There are references about the electric cars which is environmentally friendly one.


Authors explained well on the sustainability plan and execution as a strategy in every function of the firm, every employee in the firm and all business models in the industry and the importance towards the competitive advantage. The one thing I would have liked if author provided the some type of lead for industries and firms towards the sustainability strategy in different types of industries and when to take a step like slow down strategy and when to take up an aggressive strategy. Even though authors touched on this subject, more elaborate research study and findings will be helpful so that forms can learn by mistakes or gains done earlier rather than reinventing the wheel.


Building a Sustainability Performance System: Companies start developing Sustainability performance system by combining the sustainability value creation vision along with emerging capabilities of execution. Based on the complexity and superiority in those two areas and the firm’s willingness to utilize sustainability towards competitive advantage, the firms are categorized in four types.

Losers: With the acceleration of the sustainability mega-trend, companies which are involved only very minimum of the requirement in terms of risk, cost, and waste initiatives and also the company’s strategies and vision are unclearly considered or dis-organized will discover that progressively they will land in challenging situation to defend their survival. Kodak’s Dominant position of Kodak in photography battered rapidly as Kodak wasted or overlooked the future indications of development of the digital technologies displacing the film industry.

Defenders: Various companies might select and go for a slow rate of progression in sustainability strategy for various reasons inclusive of the type of industries, companies in competition, business processes types, and their exposure to environmental conditions. The Danish shipping company, Maersk, has concentrated their sustainability energies on efficiency, reducing fuel costs and reducing emission rate of carbon dioxide by shipping slow speed and many other type of initiatives. Till other firms in the shipping industry is not following a more aggressive sustainability strategies, may be based on the higher efficient ship designs, Maersk may be gifted to maintain their position.

Dreamers: While the ambition towards strategy execution and vision become too far lacking compared to the capacity to execute, firms encounter another set of challenges. The firms who took advantage of first mover advantages in the future terms of sustainability differentiation with lack of clear mapped out strategy and learned the basics of execution may feel the similar types of issues that overwhelmed some of the wishful forerunners in the It and quality megatrends. Example of the London Stock Exchange’s vision towards a paperless clearance system was a courageous attempt and one that executives expected that would throw the firm ahead.

Winners: Even though the sustainability background continually moving ahead, some primary winners have arose. Financial services business of GE has trailed worse, but their

eco-magination product line type has produced lot of dollars in operating revenues and situated the firm as a market frontrunner in fast emergent market segments like energy oriented infrastructure.

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