Despite best intentions or lofty aspirations, many sustainability professionals struggle to help their company become a truly sustainable brand. To assist them in this journey, Sustainable Brands and select SB Advisory Board Members, including Kevin Hagen – VP of Environment, Sustainability and Governance Strategy for Iron Mountain, developed the SB Brand Transformation RoadmapSM. It’s a new tool that helps companies navigate the path to full sustainability.
The SB roadmap takes advantage of and supports the work of many authors and thought leaders who have built a body of work that supports the idea that there are five stages that companies progress through on the way from “business as usual” to a Sustainable Brand. At its essence, the Roadmap is a 5x5 grid structured around five key characteristics that influence whether a brand is sustainable and the level of progress on the 5 stages.
Download the Brand Transformation Roadmap today and see what insights it unlocks for your business. Access to the tool is currently available as an exclusive benefit to SB Corporate Members. At the upcoming New Metrics Member Meeting (Philadelphia, October 29th), you’ll have the opportunity to share your roadmap results, compare notes, and learn how other members have overcome challenges that you’re currently facing.
Meanwhile, enjoy this sneak preview of what Kevin at Iron Mountain learned when he and his colleagues used the Roadmap the first time:
SB: When you plotted your company on the Roadmap, what were your results (i.e., coordinates on the 5x5 grid)?
Kevin: Our coordinates ranged from levels 2-4, depending on the characteristic. The first time running through this was a more casual experience. I’m still working on running through it more formally with leadership and other departments.
That being said, the preliminary exercise spurred great conversations and helped us understand where we are and what we should be working on.
Kevin: Going through this exercise surfaced a wide range of views as to where we are on the journey. I found that those who had actually experienced or worked on a sustainability project had a better grasp of what the company is doing vs others. Those who didn’t have first-hand experience working on sustainability projects at the company were less aware. This tells me that that we need to improve internal communications about our work.
SB: What were the challenges you encountered?
Kevin: One of the main challenges we encountered was vocabulary – getting folks to see and understand sustainability definitions. It was hard for them to see past their current set of assumptions so we risk talking past each other – using the same words but meaning different things.
Another challenge was the amount of time and energy it takes to read through the deck. I suspect that once the online diagnostic tool is up and running, it will make it a lot easier to use the Roadmap and plot coordinates. The online tool will be launched this fall. On the other hand, if someone completes the full exercise with the deck, they will get a great introduction and education on sustainable business.
I recommend other members provide some setup and preface before diving into this exercise and asking their colleagues to participate. The dialogue that generates is part of the process itself.
It’s helpful to explain why you’re using the tool, what you’re trying to accomplish, and why you’re asking them to do this with you. Don't just fling it over the wall; spend a little time thinking about how you want to set it up.
When asking a peer to run through the Roadmap plotting exercise, make sure to explain why the exercise will be helpful for them and what they will get out of it.
SB: What surprised you the most when you went through the process and saw the end result?
Kevin: I was surprised by the variety of responses. Folks saw things from different points of view, which influenced their opinion as to which level of progress we’ve achieved for each characteristic. This speaks to the wide distribution of knowledge and activity in the company.
SB: Which areas would you like to focus on now that you understand your coordinates?
Kevin: Now that we’ve done a preliminary run-through of plotting the business on the Roadmap, it’s clear to me that we can do the most by improving the official connection between brand identity and the mission/purpose of the organization.
In the near future, I intend to use this as an exercise with more people and eventually with company leadership.
SB: What questions do you have for other members now that you have your results?
Kevin: Did the tool work for you? What did you learn about your organization? How can I take that learning and apply it to Iron Mountain?
SB: Why is this a valuable tool for you and your company?
Kevin: I'm really pleased with the way the tool is helping to fast-forward the conversation and cut through a lot of stuff. Instead of being side tracked by the grand philosophical discussion, this tool gives you five clearly defined characteristics to measure yourself against and five delineated maturity levels on which to plot yourself.
There is a huge amount of sustainable business information, frameworks, consulting and tools out there. It can really be difficult to understand how these resources can be applied and which ones are best to help solve the issue that you’re working on right now. One of the key benefits of the roadmap to me is the way it can help company teams understand the landscape of tools and resources so they are better prepared to assess their own needs and get the right help in the right place at the right time.