Innovation for Sustainability

innovationInnovation and sustainability go hand-in-hand. If sustainability is about doing things smarter and more efficiently, then a culture of innovation is essential to making this happen. Innovative organisations choose to view sustainability challenges such as climate change as opportunities to thrive.

Research on this enabler…

  • 2013 research by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group found that nearly 50% of companies have changed their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities and “the portion of respondents reporting profit from sustainability went up 23%, to 37% of the total”
  • Research reported by Daniel Aronson found that “companies that were sustainability leaders were much more likely to be innovation leaders than those that weren’t—400% more likely, in fact.”
  • A 2010 Dutch study reviewed the factors which lead to the success or otherwise of integrating sustainability into product development.

Strategies for improving this enabler…

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  • Connect with the HR team on developing innovation as an organisational value
  • Communicate sustainability opportunities and benefits in terms of the innovation and creativity it unleashes
  • Ensure sustainability considerations are mandatory for all new product development projects
  • Run a competition for sustainability-focused innovations

Best Practice Examples…

  • Kimberly Clark set a 2015 goal for “25% of our net sales to be from environmentally innovative products”. In fact, by 2013, the actual figure was 37%,
  • Closely linking innovation and sustainability has allowed Dow Chemical to create unique products such as their award-winning Powerhouse Solar Shingle which combines roofing materials with photovoltaic cells for solar energy.
  • Unilever provides a public platform for innovations aimed at solving sustainability challenges. Some of the challenges which the “Unilever Foundry” has tackled include increasing bathroom recycling and inventing the shower of the future.

How Awake can help…

  • Measure the extent to which your people feel that the organisational culture supports innovation for sustainability by using the Sustainability Culture Indicator
  • Awake can facilitate a session to help your team set goals and make a plan for linking sustainability and innovation through organisational values

Other useful resources…