Performance: Products and Services
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Sustainability provides a business with a clear imperative and framework for reinventing and reinvigorating itself for the 21st century. Companies with business models that are incompatible with this imperative must be open to deep-rooted renewal. The complexity of the challenge requires investment in new products and services that offer solutions to sustainability problems, as well as the redesign of existing product portfolio to eliminate negative impacts.
Innovation itself must be provoked and nurtured in new ways. Product impacts should be understood in terms of their entire life cycle. Engagement with the company’s stakeholders will help identify possible opportunities for new business growth in meeting sustainability challenges, and accessing tools such as biomimicry can help develop solutions based on an ecosystem approach. Innovation carries sustainability risks, too, and companies will need to apply the precautionary principle when weighing new business development proposals.
As companies expand their capabilities in sustainable innovation, they should turn at least part of their focus towards emerging markets. The Base of the Pyramid (BOP) refers to the four billion people living on less than $2.50 a day who face in their daily lives many of the world’s most acute sustainability challenges. To sustainable businesses this population represents an opportunity to tap resilient and creative entrepreneurs as well as to meet the needs of a growing pool of value-demanding consumers with solutions that address environmental and social impacts.
Developing sustainability solutions and achieving their mass deployment can be too much for one enterprise. Meeting the sustainability challenge requires companies to establish strategic and tactical collaborations within and across sectors, and through the selective pooling of intellectual property.
Finally, sustainable solutions should be marketed and delivered in a sustainable way – one that promotes responsible use and addresses the consumption patterns that have helped create some of our present problems.