The majority of us in the sustainability community find ourselves working with organizations that may not be up to par with our values and understanding of sustainability. Day to day life is a constant optimization of priorities and balance between risks, urgent needs and realistic opportunities. As evidence mounts that we’ve entered a period of global uncertainty, or as Paul Gilding coined it: a great disruption, our delicate balancing act becomes even harder.
I recently discussed the importance of information processing and how sustainability executives could best prepare for a period of global uncertainty with a dedicated group of ECO-OS users. I was reminded of my years as a young goalkeeper, playing for my hometown football team (aka “soccer” in the United States). For a goalkeeper, every offensive attack can become a great disruption. Our coach, obviously recognizing the limits of my physical talents, had to arm me with advice I could actually work with. And thus, beyond constant practice and skill building, he armed me with an understanding that runs far beyond the game.
The key pointers have everything to do with information processing and serve me well till this day:
Keep your eyes on the ball - The discipline of maintaining visibility at all times is key to making rapid, fact-based decisions, especially in the heat of the game, when multiple distractions may occur. Irrational politics, celebrations of inconsequential progress and fashionable analytics come and go. In sustainability as in football - know your KPIs and monitor progress at all times.
But not all movement counts - agile feet, shoulder and neck twists and eye motion can be deceiving. But player’s hips reveal what they really mean to do with a ball. Clear your head of the noise, track and focus on the most fundamental trends. In our field we’ve spent too much time rating aspirations, policies and procedures. Time to focus on performance and net impact.
Understand the field - what threats are out there heading your way? Threats can come from players with or without the ball. A good example of that is currently playing out in our arena: “the guy with the ball” may think that cutting back on USEPA programs will make the problems go away, but the frequency of natural disasters and catastrophic pollution events suggest it will likely be a completely different ball game very soon.
Position yourself intelligently - Early positioning and commitment to fact-based action greatly reduce the effort of goalkeeping and exponentially increases your chances of keeping a clean net. Similarly, early commitment to net positive impact, product and process redesigns may be a precondition to winning the game.
ECO-OS was designed to support companies, large and small, through the rollercoaster of a great disruption. We believe that for companies to successfully meet the challenges ahead they will need a system that helps navigate their social and environmental efforts towards gains in resilience and competitiveness. Information and its processing are key. Using sophisticated cloud-computing, ECO-OS dramatically reduces the burden of data management tasks while also expanding visibility for a better understanding the rapidly unfolding reality. In parallel, the system consolidates critical internal and external data to provide an actionable perspective on risk management, benchmarking and strategic sustainability goals.