Giving Compass' Take:

Raz Godelnik emphasizes that corporations have been getting by with 'sustainability-as-usual' mindsets which follow the thinking that incremental steps toward one big goal is good enough because it's moving in the right direction.  However,  the rate at which the company will achieve that sustainable goal is not discussed any further. 

• How can companies move past incrementalism when it comes to sustainable practices? 

• Read about three ways companies can enact it's corporate social responsibility missions.

This has been a weird summer so far, with deadly heat waves and other extreme weather events taking place around the world, as well as plenty of corporate activity on sustainability, with companies making progress on different fronts from plastic use to carbon reduction.

This all coincided with another important piece of news – John Elkington’s recall of the term ‘Triple Bottom Line’ (TBL), which he coined in 1994. In an HBR article Elkington made the case that while the concept was valuable in helping many companies rethink how they do business, it did not succeed to serve as a catalyst for system transformation, as Elkington was hoping for.

Elkington’s recall is more than just an interesting thought experiment – it is a wake-up call. “To truly shift the needle, however, we need a new wave of TBL innovation and deployment,” he writes.

TBL was instrumental in shaping business thinking about sustainability issues in the last couple of decades, helping create a sandbox in which most corporations operate now to address their social and environmental impacts.  While this sandbox was fresh and promising in the 90s, offering companies new ways to shift from business-as-usual practices, it is growingly becoming a quicksand, where companies get stuck with a sustainability-as-usual mindset that puts our future in danger.

While the sustainability-as-usual sandbox pushed companies to listen to their stakeholders, not just their shareholders, and take notice of sustainability issues, it didn’t provide them (and us) clear benchmarks articulating what ‘good enough’ actually means.

Furthermore, there was no clear sense of urgency in this sandbox. Even if we had a sense that we’re flying towards the mountain, the underlying assumption was that it’s far enough and we still have time to change course.

Read the full article about sustainability by Raz Godelnik at TriplePundit.