Tag Archives: sustainability

Minding the C-Suite Gap: Preliminary Results from CXO Study, Webinar Invitation

Preliminary findings of the CXO Engagement study conducted by Newport Consulting Group and the University of Oregon were released last week during the ISSP National Conference in Chicago. I highlight some of the key points from my exclusive article for Sustainable Industries Magazine.  Join us June 13 at 1PM ET for a full briefing on the study findings, registration is now open.

As we begin to crunch the numbers for our findings of the CXO Engagement Study sponsored by Newport Consulting Group and University of Oregon’s Sustainability Leadership Program, we can now begin to take a step back and gauge where we thought sustainability was falling down inside organizations and what can be done to make sustainability strategies more strategic with the help of the right people inside of the C-suite.

Over 140 organizations responded to our survey which cut across a broad swath of roles, activities, intentions and experiences. Before I get too deep into the analytics, I’d like to offer a personal word of thanks to those of you who took the time and responded. We may yet invite you to serve as interview subjects as we probe a bit deeper into some of the findings and rationale. To our knowledge this is the first time any group or institution has tried to correlate CXO behavior with perceived sustainability performance. We understand and acknowledge we are treading into new waters, and we appreciate you being along for the swim.

First, the high level numbers. There was a predominance of C-suite participants with C-level and vice president titles (38%); directors and managers represented the middle reporting management levels (41%), and the remainder were staff, project team members and consultants (21%). Participant primary job functions were dispersed across a number of areas including management (27%), sustainability/CSR (21%), operations (11%), with areas such as finance, human resources and marketing all represented under 10% levels.

Based on our preliminary findings, we can make some high-level determinations as to what is happening. This will lead over the next several weeks into a clearer picture as to why these things are happening (or not happening) inside organizations.

You can review these trends in my exclusive article for Sustainable Industries Magazine.  Join us June 13 at 1PM ET for a full briefing on the study findings, registration is now open.

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A New Study Examines Engagement of the Entire C-suite in Sustainability Strategy

As a follow-on to my recent article “Why Sustainability isn’t Sticking with the CXO,” Newport Consulting Group colleague Cindy Jennings challenges us to open up to the honest challenge that there is an “engagement gap” with the CXO.  Rather than to simply state the obvious, Cindy calls upon us to ask the brutally honest questions as to why this is so and what can we as both colleagues in the C-suite and as staff members and stakeholders do to change direction.

Many surveys studying the attitudes and leadership of various C-level executives have been conducted over the years. A new CXO Engagement Study conducted by the University of Oregon and Newport Consulting will examine the leadership engagement and influence, motivations and engagement tools of the entire C-suite.  Cindy provides some additional context in her open letter on Sustainable Industries Magazine:

What is driving the CXO “Engagement Gap?” (photo credit: jeffreyholmes.photoshelter.com)

For years I’ve been reading and quoting surveys about CEOs and chief marketing officers (CMOs) to various clients and those interested enough to listen. More recently, stories and studies about the need for higher-level engagement of chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO) and the chief human resources officer (CHO) are also giving sound reasoning. The Wall Street Journal covered the Deloitte “ReSources 2012” study that outlined opportunities for CIO leadership in energy management systems – one of the most consistently measured performance indicators. Andy Savitz, author of “Talent, Transformation and the Triple Bottom Line: How Companies Can Leverage Human Resources to Achieve Sustainable Growth,” makes the connection for companies on how to leverage their employees — and their HR departments — to achieve their sustainability goals.

There is also speculation that we have reached “peak sustainability” in that chief sustainability officer position creation is on the decline. Within that speculation is whether or not sustainability is starting to be adopted as a standard business strategy that no longer needs a specific champion, or if it is being absorbed by the existing c-Suite. Read the “State of Green Business 2013” for more on that subject.

I agree with my colleague William Newman in his article “3 reasons sustainability isn’t sticking” when he writes “Many [CXOs] are able to ‘talk the talk’ but only a minority are able to ‘walk the walk.’ The survey seeks to help leaders better walk the walk by determining which C-level executive or mix of executives are able to effectively lead and influence triple bottom line strategy for their company, and how they do it.

Visit Sustainable Industries Magazine to read Cindy’s full article.  The survey is live and will run through April 26, 2013. The findings will be shared complimentary with those sharing their own viewpoints on the topic.  You may participate in the study by visiting the University of Oregon survey site.

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Why Sustainability Isn’t Sticking with the CXO Office

Over the next three months, I will be working with the University of Oregon Sustainability Leadership Program and Sustainable Industries to prepare for the online launch of new nationwide courses for the UO program.  In addition, SI, UO and Newport Consulting are partnering on a study of CXO sentiment around the topic of sustainability and executive engagement.  My article, the first of a series of three as part of this partnership also featuring colleague and Newport Consulting Principal Cindy Jennings, focuses on the issues facing the CXO office.  Cindy’s offering will suggest a hypothesis for why CXO behavior seems counter to triple bottom-line decision making.

Many CXOs survived a near-death experience during the Great Recession. Can they move from bottom-line thinking to triple bottom-line decision making?

It was the winter of 2009. Some would call it the “winter of our discontent” in the Motor City. As history would show, the U.S. automotive industry was hours away from stopping – not due to a major labor strike or natural disaster, but caused by a meltdown of the liquidity market.

I was meeting with a CXO who was affable and open to new ideas and conversations. We had met earlier at a local economic lunch and exchanged pleasantries. Now, in his C-level offices of a multi-billion dollar automotive supplier, his candor was striking.

“We just survived a near-death experience,” he summarized slowly and purposefully, as if he had given the answer a thousand times before to his employees. “As far as the triple-bottom line goes, we are going to focus on the bottom line for the next three to four years.”

And that was that. Sustainability and the thought of strategically embracing the triple-bottom line was off the table.

Fast forward those three to four years. While gains have been made to move executive thinking on the topic of sustainability and triple-bottom line decision making, little has changed in the psyche of CXO executives in many global organizations. Why?

No doubt the issue of sustainability is on the minds of executives. Countless studies confirm this. The now-infamousUN Global Compact Survey (2010) indicated 93% of global executives believed sustainability would have an impact or a profound impact on their operations. Striking in those figures was an improbably 100% affirmative response from automotive executives like the same CXO who scoffed at my overtures. A more recent study by Deloitte, CFOs Are Coming to the Table (2012), illustrates that spend on sustainability has risen commensurate with an increase in sustainability activities inside the organization. But the same study admits only 39% feel that it is important to communicate the value of sustainability to their employees.

If so many CXOs believe there is a strategic importance to move towards sustainable business models and triple-bottom line decision making, then why is it that a minority of those same executives feel the need to engage employees by communicating the importance of these business practices? I submit that there is an “engagement gap” among the majority of top executives when it comes to sustainability. Many are able to “talk the talk” but only a minority is able to “walk the walk.” I suggest three key areas to consider as possible reasons why this gap exists.

You can read the full article on the Sustainable Industries UO page.  Stay tuned for the next article in the series and an invitation to participate in our CXO Engagement Survey.

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Can SAP Win with Windows 8?

See on Scoop.itCloud Operations Readiness

Great overview of Windows 8 and the interoperability between on-premesis and mobile platforms.  HT to Josh Greenbaum (@JoshEAC) and Insider Learning Network (@ILN4SAP). You can follow more on this topic and how SAP is focusing this interoperability in the financial management space in my eBook series this month at searchSAP.com.

See on insiderprofiles.wispubs.com

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Automated Carbon Monitoring Works Best with Close Industry Fit, Integration

In advance of the Rio+20 summit, my Newport Consulting Group colleague Cindy Jennings and I were asked to share our observations regarding the increasing interest and requirements around carbon monitoring.  Two elements of this issue are creating great synergy.  First the increase awareness and need for carbon monitoring as a part of sustainability and regulatory compliance initiatives.  The second is the accelerated development of enterprise solutions that can analyze, manage, report and monitor the intensity of this information.  Cindy provides a great context in our article which recently published:

Carbon footprints are becoming as well known as Bigfoot himself and may feel just as mythical to some organizations. And yet they cannot be ignored. Shareholders and investors have been taking notice of carbon outputs and the associated risks for some time. Standards issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to inch closer to mandatory carbon reporting. Europe has introduced carbon trading and is now in talks with Australia to commence international trade in carbon by the end of 2012. Fortunately, automated carbon monitoring software has matured quickly in recent years, and numerous guides and standard calculations exist to help companies assess and benchmark their carbon emissions.

In response to such pressures, organizations have made automated carbon monitoring one of the strongest focus areas of their sustainability programs because it involves one of the most measurable impacts. That’s the good news. The bad news is it can still be difficult to determine what to monitor.

In my assessment of carbon reporting solutions, the overall feeling is that while we still have a ways to go progress has been made.  In addition, many large enterprise business solution providers are stepping up to the plate by developing or acquiring their own offers.

Carbon monitoring add-on software has been available for several years. While many approaches focus on one or more of the four critical aspects of an automated carbon monitoring program, few are truly comprehensive. In addition, most early applications for reporting carbon footprints are based on a series of internal and supplier surveys that roll up into specific results that give an initial snapshot of the organization’s footprint. However, these early products weren’t specific enough to meet the regulatory reporting requirements facing institutions, commercial organizations, and public sector agencies, particularly for Scope 2 and 3 requirements.

In many small to mid-size organizations, data collection involved manually consolidating sources into spreadsheets often crafted by engineering companies and service providers. Large organizations are more likely to have sophisticated business intelligence (BI) software that can sift millions of data elements associated with carbon monitoring, but this is a two-edged sword. The deep repository of information potentially allows broader and more accurate carbon monitoring, but the information is often misrepresented, poorly calculated and even superfluous to the actual reporting requirements. In short, there is too much of the wrong information to provide accurate and reliable carbon monitoring.

Feel free to read the complete article at searchManufacturingERP.com here.  Many thanks to Cindy for the collaboration!

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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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The Origins of Technology Materials Gain Importance

In her recent article from SIGNAL Magazine, published by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA, www.afcea.org), Rita Boland looks at the mandates that will affect electronics manufacturers and how they track certain supplies following legislation aimed at reducing violence in Africa.  These so-called “conflict minerals” are defined in Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010.

Section 1502 of the law amends Section 13 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, mandating that persons who require columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolframite or their derivatives to build their products report annually regarding where they obtained the materials. Derivatives include metals such as tantalum, tin and tungsten, all common in the electronics industry—the business sector that may be most affected by any regulations.

Organizations that use electronics in their products—including the avionics and automotive industries as well as government developers—also will be affected. In the law, the definition of conflict minerals further extends to those determined by the secretary of state to finance conflict in the Congo or an adjoining country.

Rita was kind enough to include several quotes from yours truly in her article, along with colleague Michael Bierkandt of iPoint Systems.  You may read the full article here.  Thanks again to Rita for her generous use of our interview quotes.

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