Our world is awash with increasingly ambitious sustainability strategies, and yet a recent Bain & Company survey found that outrageously 98% of sustainability programmes fail.
Futureground’s own research has shown that even where sustainability strategies benefit from sufficient leadership, commitment and resource, failure can often result from them being too rigid.
Perhaps it’s a property and construction industry thing – to believe that greater detail equals greater chance of success? We are concerned many extensive, elaborate and exacting strategies, full of highly specific 2050 Net Zero targets, feel destined to sit unused on the shelf for the critical years to come.
Metaphor and analogy can be powerful in helping to understand complexity and determine what great looks like, so as we reflected on our approach to helping clients with their future-facing sustainability strategies, we got thinking about jazz – Nice!
From our recent work with Southern Housing Group, we know that added value and reduced risk comes from co-creating a strategy that sets both an ambitious point on the horizon and sets up the robust governance approach to manage the inevitable change. The latter needs designing, developing and supporting, as the effectiveness of the change activity and agents is as, if not more, important that any bold sustainability targets.
In our approach to developing sustainability strategies, we are advocates jazz over classical music. It is not beneficial to have a strategy that sets out precisely what the 3rd trumpet is doing in the last movement two decades from now. But it is possible to assemble the players, equip them with high quality and tuned instruments, set the key, establish the common cadence, core themes and motifs, and together to develop the confidence and instinct to know when to join in. Be more Charlie Parker.