Tag Archives: corporate social responsibility

Using Social Business Tools to Increase Performance Management and Reporting in Sustainability Programs

Latest installment of my recent eBook series of articles on social media and social business practices supporting sustainability initiatives. In Part 1 of this article series, I introduced a framework for social media – including an information life cycle – used in sustainability programs.  In Part 2 of the series, I  address the strategic intent for reporting and green marketing of sustainability goals to outside audiences, what I call “Stage 1” activities.  In Part 3 of the series, I consider  the strategic messaging used to promote internal stakeholder adoption, what I call “Stage 3” activities.  In this installment – Part 4 of the series – I look at social business solutions available to report and monitor performance of sustainability programs, what is referred to as “Stage 3” activities of the information life cycle of sustainability programs.

A sustainability program, like any business initiative, is focused on the development of goals and objectives and tasks associated with achieving those goals and objectives.  The nature of triple bottom-line (3BL) activities creates both structure and duplicity in terms of measuring the performance of many of these goals and tasks.  Structure can be found in the regulatory nature of financial, environmental and social performance aspects of a sustainability program can be viewed prescriptively from a compliance context.  For example, certain greenhouse gas (GHG) targets are known and specific reduction goals suggest the end game.  However sustainability programs are susceptible to the duplicity nature of what to monitor and how to monitor key metrics which often times are not germane to the specific objectives of a program.  Strategic initiatives, such as creating green-inspired products and services, are also very difficult to measure in early start-up phases, as are many entrepreneurial activities.

Fortunately best practices and solutions have emerged which can lend themselves to the adequate tracking of the right metrics, at the right time, and in a proper manner so that accurate reporting against internally stated goals and objectives can occur.  Many of the large software platforms used in business – Microsoft, SAP and Oracle – maintain contextual databases of information which can be harvested, mined and represented.  In some cases these platforms also contain fully-capable performance management tools as well as social business platforms.  These can be integrated into project microsite environments, discussion board and messaging sites, with direct access to business intelligence (BI) and analytic capabilities.

The end result in many of these scenarios is scorecards and dashboards – renderings of metrics and measures at either the strategic or tactical levels, respectively. Scorecards and dashboards can be drilled into deep, contextual levels, to determine the underlying causes of why an organization is or is not meeting its sustainability targets.  For example, a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) can review scorecards and dashboards in the SAP performance management environment, and then notify specific project or department heads of an issue in one of the implementation projects – such as not meeting environmental health and safety goals – by integrated email.

Click here to read the complete article on Sustainable Business Forum.  The final article in the series I will consider how companies take performance management information of sustainability programs and promote this information outward into its internal supply chain, so-called “Stage 4” activities of the information life cycle.

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Filed under Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Compliance, Enterprise Performance Management, Information Technology, Operations, Procurement, Program Management, Risk Management, Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability, Technology

Using Social Media for Inbound Strategic Messaging of Sustainability Programs

As part of my exclusive series on social media for sustainability programs for Sustainable Business Forum, I look at the strategic messaging used to promote internal stakeholder adoption, what we call Stage 2 activities.  In Part 1 of the series, we defined an information and program life cycle for social media and social business tool use in sustainability programs.  In Part 2 of the series, we looked at examples of how businesses are using social media platforms to “declare to the world” their objectives and intentions of their sustainability programs.

As social media platforms mature, organizations are looking to leverage social and informal communications internally for business programs.  These social business tools, available now as both extensions to proprietary environments and as open source, stand-alone platforms, create new opportunities for executives and program managers to “hone their strategic message” platform and to gain adoption for sustainability efforts inside the organization.

Relative position of Internal Communications and Marketing – sustainability programs should delineate between the two in terms of purpose and focus. (source: Booz & Company as modified by Newport Consulting Group)

With so many emerging platforms to choose from – everything from internally-focused Facebook groups, YouTube, and Google+ “hang outs” to more sophisticated project based platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint and Jive Software – it’s tough to get a handle on where to begin.  With so many new social business platforms emerging every week,  the question becomes: does the platform work for sustainability programs and is one platform better than another?

Indeed one of the first issues to address is the role of communication inside the organization.  Key to this issue is who is going to own internal communications and who will build this capability, particularly in the area of content creation, for the sustainability program.   This can be tightly integrated with outbound, conventional marketing communications.  Indeed there is a “hand and glove” role between the two – however therein also lies the danger.  “If internal communications starts to sound like it is selling rather than to inform or build consensus, employees may feel as though the sustainability program is ‘green washing’ the company,” explained Newport Consulting Group’s Cindy Jennings, Principal for Sustainability Management services.  “The focus of the sustainability program is to share information and company objectives to build support inside the organization and to select supplier partners.  Leave sales communications for the sales teams.”

Many large corporations, such as Texas Instruments, use internal intranet sites to facilitate sustainability information and program communication. TI’s “INFOLINK” uses standard web-based platforms including polls, blogs and wikis related to their sustainability program.

The importance of getting the employees on-board with sustainability programs should never be under-estimated.  “Our employees are the most important stakeholders in our program since they make our objectives possible,” recounts Lara Hussain, Sustainability Director of Texas Instruments (TI).  Story-telling can be key to the success of internal communications used to promote sustainability programs.  Sustainability teams can provide providing engaging content in blogs, articles or news feeds shared through social business tools.

Hussain recalls that at first the TI approach was simply sharing relevant articles on what was happening in the area of sustainability for education and awareness. “We started with a sustainability website internally, with articles that focused on sustainability use both in the company and at home.  Then we added an open discussion thread on how and why sustainability is important.” Soon this led to animated videos, short and simple, produced internally.  “We experiment every year to find new ways to engage and inspire employees and maintain our focus on sustainability,” explains Hussain.

To read the full story, please visit SustainableBusinessForum.com.  Many thanks to Lara Hussain from Texas Instruments who contributed to this article with her outstanding program example.

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Filed under Audit and Oversight, Change Management and Leadership, Communication Planning, Compliance, Mobile Society, Program Management, Risk Management, Sustainability, Technology