How can we make your business sustainable?

Listed Under: Blog, Business Models, Design Thinking, Sustainable Business

How can we make your business sustainable?


How do I make my business sustainable? Eoin McQuone explains his 6 step program to making your business truly sustainable. It's a strategic approach to sustainability that brings together environmental and social value, customer needs, industry and societal trends and your business values to design a strategy for long-term business growth.

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I've developed this six-step programme that can take you through, step by step, the process of remodelling your business sustainably.

I want to talk through it now, and as I do, I'm going to share with you some of the models, and some of the outputs that you would get, following this process. Don't worry if you don't
follow it all in detail, there'll be a fair bit of detail on the screen. It's all about understanding the flow, of the process,
and the way of going about it.

Step one, is about understanding your business. Before we look at changing anything, we need to have a shared understanding of what makes your business tick. It's dangerous to change otherwise. And I want to understand you, as business leaders, what your motivation is. So, you may be familiar with this model, called the "Golden Circle." A guy called Simon Sinek created this. He's written a very famous, best-selling book called, "Start with Why". 

What he says, is that every company on the planet knows what they do, some companies understand how they do it, but only a very few know why they do it. And yet, we know, it's scientifically proven,
that most of our decisions are made at a raw emotional level, and then we use the facts and figures to post-rationalize afterwards. We don't like to admit it to ourselves, but it's true. What that means, is that people aren't really buying what you do. They might need what you do, but they're really buying it from you, rather than from your competitor, because of why you do it. The "why" is an emotional state.

To give you an idea of how this works, I want to share with you my golden circle. 

I passionately believe that everybody in the world should have the same standard of living as I do.  If that's going to work, and we're going to have a world that's fit for people to live in, we got to change our economic model, and I believe that business is the fastest, most effective way of doing it. So, that's the contribution I can make. That's why I'm in this business.

How do I do it? I do it by designing bespoke, innovative, sustainable business models, by turning employees and customers into fans through sustainability and by creating connections between the businesses that need sustainable solutions,and organisations that provide them. That's how I go about my business.

And what do I do? I work directly with people like yourselves, people running businesses, to create step change growth for their businesses, to out-innovate their competitors, and to protect the future for their kids' generation. It's all very well doing the right thing for the planet and people, but it has to work for your business. I see no reason why, like some of the examples I've given you, sustainability can't create that step change growth,
and it can help you out-innovate your competitors. So, that's what I'm about.

Going back to the process, the first thing we've got to do
is understand the business. So, I do an audit to understand where you are on your sustainability journey today, and give you a report like this that gives you some indication of where you are,
and where are some of the gaps, may be. I also want to understand
what you're promising to your customers. What I've call a brand promise. You're promising something to your customers, whether or not you've articulated it, and we need to understand what that is,
because that's a foundation on which to build.

We need to understand what's going on outside your business, what's going on in the industry, socioeconomic trends, in the
economy and in your market. We need to anticipate what's coming next, because doing this stuff isn't going to suddenly happen over night.It's going to take some years, so we've got to have our eyes on the future, which direction are we going, and what's going to help drive it. 

Most importantly, we've got to understand who your customers are, and what they're trying to do. You can be as sustainable as you like, if you're not providing something that's of value to your's a waste of time! So, we need to understand what jobs your customers are trying to do, what's painful for them, what's difficult for them about doing those jobs, and where are there opportunities to create gains,to make life easier, for them to do their jobs. 

It's only once we understand all that, that we move on to step two, which is about identifying opportunities. We can work through the opportunties circle here, and I've got a whole bunch of examples and stimulus material we can work through, to figure out which of these opportunities might work for your business.

And then we bring it all together; the external view; the customer
view; the internal view; and also, what matters to you, as the business leader. Where do you want to go? What are your values? The idea being to develop a value proposition, a bundle of products and services that help your customers do the jobs they're trying to do, that relieve their pains, and that create new gains
that your competitors aren't addressing. At the same time addressing some of those sustainable opportunities we've identified, in a wat that's in line with your values.

So, we've got to find the sustainable opportunities that matter to your customers, and this model can help us do it.

Steps three to five are really the engine room of the process. They are all about prototyping, testing, and refining. It's very unlikely that we're going to leap straight to the solution, so that process is really important.

This is a model you may be familiar with, the Business Model Canvas. I've slightly modified it with a couple of extra boxes at the bottom. So, I've called it the Sustainable Business Model Canvas. The beautiful thing about this is you can see the whole business on one page, and how it works, how it delivers the
outcomes you're looking for. The revenue outcomes, the cost structure, the social impacts, and the environmental impacts you're trying to deliver. We can rapidly try out new, different types of business models. We can put these together, and see what the different outcomes are, go and market test them then refine them, until we've got the model that's going to work for you.
Testing and refining is a key part of that process.

If you do that, we can then re-look at your brand promise, and understand what's the sustainable opportunity that's delivering the things your customers value, in a way that matters to them emotionally. That can then deliver you a much more powerful marketing message, based on what matters to your customers.

And finally, we look at your most important assets, your people. You can have the best plan in the world, if people aren't engaged with it, and don't care about it, it isn't going to work. So, we also then look at the change management process, which is all about engaging people, and we use the best in-class system, which is also really easy to get to grips with, called ADKAR.

This says that, if you want to get people to engage with the change, you have to go through five stages, in the right order.
1. You have to create Awareness of what you're trying to do.
2. You have to create Desire for that change.
3. You have to give people the Knowledge of how to do it.
4. And then they also have to develop the Ability. Knowledge and Ability are not the same thing. One training course rarely cuts it.
5. Finally, you have to Reinforce it.

So, we help you create a plan to do just that, and make sure we engage everybody in your business.