New Year’s resolutions for sustainability and strategy professionals

As a sustainability or strategy professional, you probably have too many commitments for 2012 already.  But in case you’re in the market for a few more, here are ten suggested New Year’s resolutions for sustainability and strategy professionals:

1. Think about the long term – and act in the short term with that long-term perspective in mind.

2. Remember the “economics” leg of the sustainability stool – and not just your own economics.  All our progress in social and environmental issues won’t be good enough, if we get the economics wrong.  Dying communities, disappearing jobs and bankrupt suppliers don’t add up to a sustainable future.

3. If you think you’re leading, make sure someone’s following.  Leaders with no followers aren’t leading, they’re just wandering.

4. Don’t confuse reporting with doing. Transparency is important, but results are more important.

5. Think about strategy before it’s time.   If you wait until it’s time, it’s too late.

6. Don’t confuse journalism with history.  What happened in the last 24 hours may be fascinating, but a year from now it may be the answer to a trivia question.

7. Don’t confuse history with planning. It’s nice to have data, but by definition data is backward-looking.  Driving at the speed business moves at now, it’s important to look through the windshield more than at the rear view mirror.

8. Review your plans honestly. Before you ask others to sign up, ask yourself: Is my proposal big enough to matter, small enough to be accomplished, and if we do it – will it really make a difference?

9. Remember both value and values. Any time you’re thinking about only one, you’re destined to fail one way or the other.

10. Do better on your “work-work balance”.  Yes, that was supposed to be “work-life” or “work-family”.  A colleague recently caught himself in that genuine Freudian slip.  It’s a handy reminder for 2012.  My children are now in their late twenties. I don’t hear anyone my age saying: “Darn, I wish I’d spent one more Saturday at the office”  (or “one more family dinner on my BlackBerry”).

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, more strategic and sustainable 2012.


  1. Wow–some great thoughts in particular around value/value and the economic leg of the stool. Both professional and personally–it is going to take a long time to dig out of this hole. I do believe environmental and sustainability will be part of the journey out…but almost back to the books on environmental capitalism. Hope all is well–in year two of retired life…homes in India and Bellevue–only professional role is sitting on the National Environmental Health Accreditation Council….even for those few meetings a year–I cannot believe the hours and days spent in meetings….Happy New Year

  2. Great list, Scott. Reinforcing the fundamental tenants and positioning for the future. I might add the following from Vision 2050 of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development:

    Business-as-usual cannot get us to sustainability or secure economic and social prosperity; these can be achieved only through radical change, starting now. To play its role, business will still need to do what business does best: innovate, adapt,
    collaborate and execute. These activities will change along with the partnerships that we form with other businesses, governments, academia and non-governmental organizations in order to get it right for all. And we must get it right.

  3. Perfect resolutions! I will be starting with the work-work balance, too much time spent chasing data to report has led to putting off long term strategizing, creating a nice history but no story for the future and a loss of focus on what truly matters…how many am I up to?

    I recently read an article about the Newsweek Green Rankings and the author mentioned several companies that have created Sustainability Indexes and spent a great deal of money to make changes to their facilities, but still scored low in key areas. The point the author was making is very similar to your 9th resolution, value and values. If your only concern is your appearance you will fall short on what is truly important, that applies to an organization and an individual.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

  4. Scott: Wonderful! I love the way you’ve put sustainabiity fair and square into living a balanced connected life – the new normal. Except that it’s ancient wisdom too. And common sense. Value and values should be the same. Stephen Green , ex Chairman of HSBC wrote a wonderful book on this. I always thought economics was supposed to be about scarcity. And as for work life balance – sustainability will only happen when work becomes a subset of life – not a separate entity. My hope and belief is that in a short time your resolutions will become the common currency of our lives.

  5. Great resolutions Scott. We’ll look for a six month update on progress! Like Andy I am a great believer in innovation and I think the key to human sustainability is our ability to innovate. So I would add one that says something like: “If you’re not innovating, or helping bring someone else’s innovation to life, then nothing’s going to change.” Let’s see where we get to in June.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *