Corporate approaches to sustainability can be a costly distraction and prevent innovation

Adaptation chairman argues that alternative approaches and business models can lead to new opportunities and more inclusive, responsible and sustainable outcomes
Colin Coulson-Thomas
Colin Coulson-Thomas
PETERBOROUGH, U.K. - Aug. 12, 2018 - PRLog -- Many directors and boards view sustainability in terms of preserving the status-quo and enabling a continuation of an existing model of operations and current priorities, rather than operation within the finite limits of the earth's natural resources and dealing with challenges such as climate change, according to Adaptation's Prof Colin Coulson-Thomas in the latest issue of Director Today. He questions whether the approaches of many boards to sustainability is an illusion and distraction, as enabling the continuity of current approaches, business models and lifestyles can prevent us from taking difficult decisions and making the changes we need to live within the boundaries of what is available on our much abused planet.

The safeguarding, preservation and continuation of current lifestyles and corporate objectives, strategies, policies, business models and resulting activities might be neither feasible nor desirable. Different business models and lifestyles might be more fulfilling, inclusive and healthy than our current hurried, stressful and increasingly isolated and self-centred existence. By giving up some of what we feel pressured to do, strive for and acquire today, we might obtain more quality time for ourselves, our friends and family, and artistic, sporting and other leisure activities that could enhance our lives and benefit those around us and in the communities in which we live.  We might also obtain the time to reconnect with a natural world that we could nourish, respect and enjoy rather than exploit and deplete.

Coulson-Thomas suggests there are alternatives and that the boardroom is an appropriate arena for reconciling contending views and grasping nettles. There are also opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship. The requirement is to abandon some current practices and replace others with alternatives that utilise fewer resources and have less harmful or more beneficial impacts. This can involve turning ones back upon areas in which a current team excels, learning new skills and facing new challenges on journeys into the unknown. Siren voices may favour continuing as at present and hoping for the best, but this risks missing the boat when pressures for change become overwhelming, if by then early movers have travelled up learning curves to such as extent as to secure unassailable leads.

Coulson-Thomas believes the role of a board is to provide strategic direction in the context of what might be a competitive market and against the background of wider developments and diverse stakeholder requirements. This can involve taking a view on what is achievable, acceptable and desirable in terms of sustainable growth and the extent to which this is inclusive. It can also require courage in the face of realities, such as some customers who use the rhetoric of sustainability, while switching to a competitor that is more polluting of the environment but offers a lower price as a result of having fewer emissions controls.

Adaptation's chairman considers that despite uncertainties, not responding to sustainability challenges quickly enough and a lack of foresight can be costly: "As a community, competent directors know that for aspirations to result in achievement, the fine words of corporate visions and mission statements must be matched by the practicalities of determined implementation. The stakes are high, but so are the payoffs from effective action."

Prof Coulson-Thomas' views and findings as set out in Director Today can be downloaded from: He has advised directors and boards on director, board and business development in over 40 countries. Further information on his various activities and recent books and reports can be obtained from

Adaptation / Colin Coulson-Thomas
Source: » Follow
Email:*** Email Verified
Tags:Sustainability, Business Models, Directors and boards
Location:Peterborough - Cambridgeshire - England
Account Email Address Verified     Account Phone Number Verified     Disclaimer     Report Abuse
Adaptation Ltd News
Most Viewed
Daily News

Like PRLog?
Click to Share