On executing a Green Strategic Plan

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The following is one of series of excerpts posted here from the business book Good to Green: Managing Business Risks and Opportunities in the Age of Environmental Awareness, by John Phyper and Paul MacLean (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). Paul MacLean is President of ÉEM, a Nimonik affiliate partner.

Key lessons in developing a corporate strategy in which environmental risks and opportunities are embedded include:

Leadership – Ensure that senior people understand the business impact of green risks and opportunities and its impact on the corporation and put forward a bold vision of where they want to take the company. The role cannot be played by anyone other than a strong believer in sustainable development and the potential corporate value it can bring. This is not about “cosmetic environmentalism” but fundamental change in how a company conducts business.

Ongoing planning – The creation of a strategic plan is not a one-time event. The business environment must be monitored on an ongoing basis, especially in areas of technological disruption or reliance on petroleum prices. This information must then be used for ongoing analysis, reflection, discussion, debate and dialogue around issues and goals in the system. Many companies track information about the business environment but do nothing with it.

Execute, execute, execute – A common failure in strategic planning processes is that the plan is never implemented. Instead, the focus is on writing a planning document/Powerpoint presentation that all too often sits unread in the email inbox. Individual must be assigned objectives that are realistic, provided the resources to achieve these objectives and yes, be held accountable if they are not met. This means periodic review of performance. It also means that if new information emerges in the rapidly changing business environment, leaders cannot play ostrich; instead they must assess impacts on the plan and, more importantly, the key objectives.