The Quest for Purpose
In this chapter, we introduce and discuss the first critical success factor for an effective sustainability effort—identifying the proper objectives for it. Through clinical observation, we discovered that many firms failed to successfully implement their sustainability strategies, not because they lacked the desire, the willingness or even the belief in the impact of sustainability on their businesses, but because they failed to identify proper objectives for their efforts. When firms become overly ambitious and select too many targets, their efforts tend to become dispersed and hence of limited impact. This creates demotivation and too often leads to the abandonment of meaningful and inherently valuable efforts. It definitely pays to focus but on the right targets. In the next sections, we review the importance of purpose for an organization, and how it helps to coalesce various efforts and goodwill and gives a shared sense of direction. We then illustrate how sustainability can be a strong contributor to that sense of purpose by providing superior motives for business activities. In later sections, we review how to identify and qualify the possible sustainability efforts and then to single out a small subset that would be most compatible with your business and hence best able to serve as guidance for your organizational efforts.
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