Sustainability

Are Sustainable Organizations Just a Buzzword?

  • Max Ziegler
  • April 9, 2021
How to build a sustainable organization

A new year, a new buzzword – you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that entire dictionaries will soon need to be rewritten. But one thing is quite clear: companies are faced with all kinds of challenges. Most notably the mother of all buzzwords: sustainability. Such challenges often cause people to take action far too quickly, throwing away major opportunities and valuable capital.

Nowadays, people like to follow every new trend almost blindly – but they usually don’t think about it, or only do so when it’s too late. Consequently, high costs are incurred, long-term, sustainable success fails to materialize and people become frustrated. The problem is that, in a world of buzzword chaos, something that everyone is actually already familiar with is being lost. So hysteria is unnecessary.

Environmental and sustainability trends have been the basis of successful action and business for a long time. Scarce resources are the basic principle of economics, and every entrepreneur and manager – indeed, basically every human being – should use them carefully and considerately.

Legendary entrepreneur Michael Otto and his company Otto Group have already shown that this can be a key driver for corporate success. His visionary and innovative actions laid the foundation for the company’s current success over 30 years ago. Even back then, he introduced packaging made of recycled materials, and in so doing cut costs and protected the environment.

It’s a successful transformation story on many levels. But in today’s highly interconnected and fast-paced world, it has become difficult to keep track of things and make good decisions.

To do this, you need transparency for mutual effects. Particularly in large companies and structures, communicating such effects is
often difficult, which in turn frequently makes it hard to convey meaning and importance. To achieve this, I have developed the
RoOT KPI – RoOT stands for “Return on Organizational Transformation”.

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Overall transformation success can be measured and communicated based on three core areas of action. Resource-conserving action becomes openly apparent and the benefits become clear. With Nudie Jeans, customers can have their worn-out jeans repaired in-store for free. The resulting positive brand impact has long-lasting effects on customer loyalty and increases cross-selling and upselling at the Point of Sale (POS).

Another example is the technological approach. Logistics and 3D printing create new business models and revenue
opportunities at lower costs. Processes are simpler and more affordable. But, above all else, CO2 emissions are also reduced if
delivery distances are shortened and warehouses made smaller.

Planning our daily work better, making meetings more efficient, and using and accepting new technology not only
enables us to avoid unnecessary journeys; it also allows us to respect our precious time and protect our environment.

I leave you with this thought—don’t follow a trend simply because it is one, but because you can use and harness it to create success. Make overarching interactions transparent, and identify sustainable and cost-saving potential.