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Brain Circuits

How to innovate towards sustainability

IbyIMD+ Published 16 March 2022 in Brain Circuits • 2 min read

In part one, we discussed how to shift the way you think about sustainability and profitability as two connected parts of your business that support each other. However, if you are just starting to define your sustainability goals, you may be stumbling on what the first steps to take.

Clarify your purpose

The first step in the process is to get together with not just the top team, but people throughout your organization to define what your sustainability goals should be. These shared goals are critical for bringing your organization together with a purpose.

Identify new opportunities

The key to finding sustainable solutions within the context of your business follows the principles of innovation in any aspect of business. You need to embrace outlier thinking to reimagine what is possible. It can be difficult to shed preconceived notions about what your organizational supply chain can and cannot do, but this is a critical step.

To find inspiration for this, you only have to look to the pandemic. When COVID-19 started sweeping the globe, many companies and public services came together to find solutions. Companies that seemingly had no health-related aspects to their business were able to shift their operations, such as alcohol companies who began making hand sanitizer, manufacturers who made masks, and companies that made plastics creating parts for ventilators.

These companies were displaying a sensitivity to the greater need in a very visible way. Companies who can internalize this lesson should be also able to continue to find relevant ways to contribute to society and are also more likely to be attuned to the needs of their customers.

Ask yourself: What resources do you have that could be repurposed in pursuit of sustainability?

The answer to this question will require innovation, and it will be the key to developing a cyclical model of profits, people, and planet.






Patrick Reinmoeller - IMD Professor

Patrick Reinmoeller

Professor of Strategy and Innovation at IMD

Patrick Reinmoeller has led public programs on breakthrough strategic thinking and strategic leadership for senior executives, and custom programs for leading multinationals in fast moving consumer goods, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and energy on developing strategic priorities, implementing strategic initiatives, and managing change. More recently, his work has focused on helping senior executives and company leaders to build capabilities to set and drive strategic priorities.


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