Test

Once you have assessed the trends likely to affect your business in the future and the innovation opportunities you may be able to take advantage of, and started to develop your strategy, the next step is to test new products, services or business models at a large enough scale to learn from without being so large that the cost of failure would damage the business.

This might be a test project affecting a particular business unit, product line or location – it, or the principle behind it, should be scalable if successful.

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Testing key innovation opportunities in your business

This section provides a summary of the roles of the sales & marketing, operations and procurement functions for sustainability.

Each business function plays a vital role in identifying and testing key innovation opportunities. Future progress on sustainability will be driven by customer interactions (sales & marketing) and by the way businesses make and deliver their products and services (operations and procurement).

Sales & Marketing

Deciding how and when to engage with customers on environmental and social issues are key questions for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs).

CMOs can play a key role to play in shaping customer support for new sustainability innovations, for example by promoting cleaner products and services or through championing new models such as collaborative consumption, or driving the shift from selling products to selling services.

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Operations

Chief Operating Officers (COOs) face multiple tasks, including minimising the cost of operations without compromising on quality of the product or service provided.

In addition COOs may be required to manage the impact of sustainability-driven regulations (for example the Carbon Reduction Commitment, or the Landfill tax), and are responsible for maintaining and improving productivity of the workforce. Meeting these requirements without compromising on social or environmental sustainability is a key challenge.

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Procurement

Failing to pay attention to wider environmental and social issues is increasingly risky for Chief Procurement Officers.

Sustainability pressures impact the full supply chain, but may be challenging to measure and assess. Key risks may include, for example, the availability of high quality supply of raw materials in the years ahead, rising resource costs, labour standards challenges and supply chain disruption.

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Next steps

The next step is not only to bring your test to scale, but to embed sustainability principles within your organisation so that other test projects can be developed in different areas of the business. To do this, employees need to understand the unique contribution of their business to a more sustainable future, the vision and rationale for transition and the value of the new approach.

The Deliver section provides principles and steps for mobilising the business.