Sustainability has finally become part of the transformation agenda, moving from the periphery to the heart of business operations. “Sustainability must become part of the core strategy of companies so that it can support the long-term viability of the business. A well-founded sustainability strategy allows business leaders to adopt the right mindset when making business decisions that lead to concrete actions,” Michael Wagemans says.

As Head of Sustainability at KPMG in Belgium, Michael is familiar with the issues companies face when tackling sustainability opportunities and challenges. Together with Herman Vantrappen, Managing Director of Akordeon, a strategic advisory firm, he co-authored the article How to design an organization to enable the implementation of the company’s sustainability agenda (2022, Strategy & Leadership). The article provides business leaders with a framework to think through and act on optimal organization design for sustainability. 

A framework to help guide organization design questions for sustainability

Michael and Herman offer a practical framework to guide the design and implementation process for any organization seeking to embed sustainability in its businesses. The experts outline the importance of the sustainability focus and the principles by which a company is organized. They distinguish four focus areas of the sustainability agenda: customer solutions, business operations, goodwill and compliance. They also propose three organizational philosophies: portfolio, balanced and corporation. Together, the focus areas and organization philosophies yield 12 possible combinations for companies to consider in optimizing their design for sustainability.

No silver bullet

There is no single, ideal way to organize for sustainability. A tailored approach is recommended, as the optimal design is informed by the focus of the ESG agenda and the organization’s philosophy. Organizations are encouraged to evaluate what direction best fits their needs. For example, a company that offers products and services to enable sustainability requires a different approach to one that wants to generate economic benefits.

Companies benefit from the application of good design, so they can anchor sustainability at the heart of the organization. It is, therefore, important to consider the various organization design options that enhance sustainability. 

The full article can be retrieved here: How to design an organization to enable the implementation of the company’s sustainability agenda | Emerald Insight