“To find the exact answer, one must first ask the exact question.” -- S. Tobin Webster
Too many organizations underestimate the power of asking their stakeholders important questions in a timely manner. Even worse, too many firms treat their internal disputes and disagreements as sensitive information to be hoarded rather than as valuable insight to be shared. On the flip side, our eco friendly consulting subscribes to the likes of Tom Peters,
"Innovation comes only from readily and seamlessly sharing information rather than hoarding it."
In the corporate world, most business leaders agree that achieving real bottom line improvements, whether through cost savings or improved revenues, is critical to business sustainability. However, these bottom line achievements are the result of close collaboration with key stakeholders committed to the business’s success. 2011 business planning is well underway. What happens if you aren't asking the right questions? Or, what if you are asking the right questions but to the wrong group of stakeholders?
According to Ernst & Young’s 2010 Business Risk Report, corporate social responsibility and the need for social acceptance both appeared on the top ten risks facing businesses. Asked in our sustainability consulting practice," Is your organization asking the right questions to best plan for 2011 and are you asking the right stakeholders? Topics include: emissions, waste streams, energy consumption, supply and distribution, material usage, regulatory changes, employee and community impacts.
As sustainability consultants, we encourage businesses to engage in the conversation by asking questions. Curiosity elicits the best answers. Consider the results of stakeholder collaboration:
• Employees actively engaged in the sustainability strategies of the business.
• The supply chain working together under aligned sustainability goals.
• Business responsiveness to the expectations of the consumer.
• Business practices designed for minimal environmental impact.
• Realized benefits of a supportive local community.
Sustainability is all about inclusion. By embracing sustainability’s core principals of inclusion, transparency, and engaged communication with stakeholders, sustainable change is not only possible but encourages ownership and accountability within multiple levels in the organization. Are you asking the right stakeholders the right questions to best prepare for 2011?