- IMD Business School

Redefining Sustainability

How can organizations leverage sustainability to achieve impact?

One leading FMCG client was facing slowing growth in a fast-growing segment. Despite a history of success and innovation, the fast pace of market change and emerging consumer trends suggested the need to rethink the enablers for continued growth, while building new engines for the future and reimagining their role in shaping the industry.

Following an initial phase of listening to the organization, the leadership team identified two sets of critical topics across two time-horizons. The first horizon concentrated on areas for strengthening the foundation to accelerate immediate growth. That involved a reflection on differentiated business models, the role of fast-developing economies, digital beyond a sales channel and the asset utilization model.

Sustainability as a lever for innovation, market access and impact

Our client’s initiative on “Redefining sustainability as a source of growth and impact” addressed the fundamental issue of how to move from a siloed to a sustainability-centric approach to strategy as a lens for innovation, for creating new markets and for impact. In their meetings with sustainability leaders, additional questions emerged:

  • How can sustainability become a lever to engage with customers and consumers, to deepen relationships and anticipate trends to deliver more value?
  • How can we tap into the power of strategic alliances to build and develop the sustainability ecosystem and strengthen collaboration with key stakeholders?
  • How to generate engagement and alignment across the organization around our core sustainability challenges?
    What are the essential behaviours that support a sustainability-centric culture?
  • How is implementation supported by metrics and incentives?


Consequently, the team identified archetypes of viable strategies, which triggered a deeper understanding of the tensions and trade-offs involved in the sustainability journey. It also empowered them in identifying and making aligned choices to bring sustainability to the core of the business by integrating it into the strategic leadership agenda.