Like innovation, sustainability—a focus on creating economic, social, and environmental value—is rising on corporate agendas. According to a recent global executive survey, CEOs are now “twice as likely as they were in 2012 to say sustainability is their top priority,” and more other execs now see it as one of the top three items on their CEO’s agenda. Almost half of the executives surveyed say their company is aiming to align sustainability with overall business goals rather than with cost-cutting strategies.¹
It’s natural to think innovation would drive new solutions for sustainability. But the opposite is also true: a focus on sustainability can drive innovation and growth. Hannah Jones, Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and VP of the Innovation Accelerator, says it in six words in a recent interview: “Sustainability is just innovation spelled differently.”
The similarities and synergies of innovation and sustainability span strategy, growth, process, and culture:
- Strategy: Both sustainability and innovation should start at the top and be woven into business strategy.
- Growth: Sustainability and innovation work in tandem to foster the disruptive ideas that can charge growth.
- Process: Sustainability and innovation utilize similar process elements.
- Culture: Sustainability and innovation both require similar mindsets and cultures.
To read the complete article “The Sustainability – Innovation Connection” visit our Strategic Innovation Newsletter
1 McKinsey & Co. “Sustainability’s Strategic Worth: McKinsey Global Survey Results.”