In this volatile time of unceasing change, the opening night plenary presentations at SB’16 Copenhagen explored the characteristics an organisation needs to not just be resilient, but be ‘fit’ for the future. They unravelled the challenges and successes of their journeys through activating the purpose that moved them to more sustainable, future-fit organisations.
First, Giles Hutchins, author of the new book ***Future Fit***, kicked off the discussion by highlighting a shift in thinking to a new approach to leadership. He framed organisations as living systems that endure unceasing change and must stand resiliently, optimizing and adapting their systems to become ‘future fit’ companies. He highlighted trends in these companies that have decentralized decision-making, removed hierarchy and made everyone accountable for the company’s actions. Hutchins maintains that creating a nurturing environment that focuses on humanizing the work environment, where the soul is nurtured, forms the foundation of a soulful, more purposeful organisation.
Wolfgang Neumann, president and CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group, discussed the business reality of activating purpose into business, specifically the journey of his group’s hotel brands in becoming more sustainable and contributing to society. Neumann referenced his personal commitment to sustainability and how he implemented sustainable measures as he leads his team with a hands-on approach. The Rezidor Hotel Group defines its purpose as ‘Creating Memorable Moments,’ using short, sharp and engaging concepts that can be easily understood and applied to local contexts. The concepts can be understood, embraced and implemented by thousands of employees throughout the hotel chain to resonate with the brand’s purpose and sustainability vision. They are then enabled to create their own social and environmental impact projects. Neumann traced the success of the hotel group’s campaigns to factors such as employee satisfaction and reduction in water and electricity consumption, where measurable impact could be gauged.
Claus Stig Pedersen, head of corporate sustainability at Novozymes, then led the conversation toward activating purpose for consumer engagement. Novozymes has worked with nature to create sustainable solutions that have relevance for people and business. The multinational biotech company spent many years moulding its strategy to integrate sustainability. “Novozymes recognized the opportunity in sustainability to make their organization fit for the future and deliver more value to the future,” Pedersen explained. The company partnered with like-minded stakeholders to work to create a better life for people and used the UN Sustainable Development Goals as inspiration to guide its company purpose and long-term strategy. Pedersen highlighted that what matters is engaging and connecting consumers with purposeful brands, so that they too will ride the wave of opportunity by making more sustainable choices. This will give brands a competitive advantage, as well as increases the demand for more sustainable products and services.