"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
“Sustainability” is not always sustainable. Simply, doing and describing what you do as sustainable does not make it so. For organizations (and us, personally!) to be sustainable in what we do, we have to be sustainable in who we are and how we see the world. This gives us our best shot at doing something that is actually going to get or generate sustainable results. In the following series of six posts I will introduce the six levels of engaging in sustainability: Compliance, Conformity, Cooperation, Collaboration, Coherence and Constellation. We use these at Interkannections to help our clients clarify their current goals around sustainability and map out their paths for deepening their practice and impact.
Each level includes and transcends the one before it, adding additional functionality and value.
- Compliance can be seen as baseline best business practice. Without a strong foundation in compliance we tend to be constantly firefighting and fighting for survival.
- Sustainability is externally mandated and internally enforced.
- Example sustainability issue: meeting workplace safety regulations
- Being at this level is basically about staying out of trouble and reducing risk. We focus on compliance with rules, regulations and requirements in order to avoid penalties and stay in business.
- What we tend to see at this level are the need to meet short-term goals and maintain immediate profitability.
- What we are doing is trying to establish stability as we establish ourselves, move into new markets or new areas of business.
- From Compliance the positive value we get is ongoing permission to operate and stability.
- Failure to evolve capacity to include and move beyond Compliance mires us in largely transactional and frequently win-lose relationships with the world around us as we seek to fulfill self-centered short-term needs.
You probably know people and organizations that struggle in this area. The best way to move out of a compliance focus is to develop strong operational standards and protocols that are part of a larger sustainability initiative. That initiative must be closely tied to financial bottom line improvements and positive visible change.
Tags: bottom line, Coherence, collaboration, Compliance, Conformity, Constellation, cooperation, Interkannections, operational standards, profit, reducing risk, regulations, rules, sustainability, workplace safety