Print Email Facebook Twitter Sustainability Maturity Model: The Pilot Sustainability Agenda-Setting in Business Title Sustainability Maturity Model: The Pilot Sustainability Agenda-Setting in Business Author Wortel, M.C. Contributor Korevaar, G. (mentor) Quist, J.N. (mentor) Faculty Technology, Policy and Management Department Energy & Industry Programme Industrial Ecology Date 2013-09-30 Abstract The Master’s programme Industrial Ecology is jointly organised by Leiden University and Delft University of Technology. Sustainable development is a young, developing field in which many standards, certificates, and initiatives are spawning. Companies are expected to work on sustainable development by its customers, investors, and society in general. It can be difficult to do this effectively because the field is cluttered and can be confusing. The Sustainability Maturity Model (SMM) presents an overview of sustainability topics and helps companies prioritise between them. The SMM was developed in a collaboration of Ecomatters (a consultancy firm in sustainability and regulatory affairs) and the master programme Industrial Ecology of Delft University of Technology and Leiden University to assist companies with defining their internal sustainability agenda. The SMM does that by supporting companies through providing an overview of the sustainability topics they are expected to manage, and prioritising them. The SMM consists of a list of 29 sustainability topics based on established standards, and is combined with a 5-step level system, that is based on the Capability Maturity Model. This project was commissioned by Ecomatters and its main goal was to operationalise the SMM and execute a pilot with potential users to assess the SMM’s viability as a consultancy product. The second goal was to relate the SMM to current academic literature. The SMM relates to current academic literature. It is based on the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of ‘People, Planet, Profit’ developed by John Elkington. The TBL is the most widely accepted approach to sustainable development (Stubbs and Cocklin 2008). Sustainable development was defined by the World Council on Environment and Development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations (WCED 1987). The topic list of the SMM is based on established frameworks: the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility, and Social Accountability’s SA8000. Next to topics from these frameworks, the SMM includes the topic Future Business Activities which is based on the widely used framework Transition Management that was developed to incorporate sustainability trends into the business strategy (Loorbach, van Bakel et al. 2010). The topic ‘Sustainability Awareness’ was added because it is recognised as an important factor for the sustainability performance of a company (McEwen and Schmidt 2007). Since the issues companies “are expected to manage” is an important theme in the SMM, it is important to understand the role business is expected to assume in sustainable development. Business is expected to address sustainability issues through developing sustainable products and processes (Hall, Daneke et al. 2010, Porter and Kramer 2011). Sustainable products and processes are expected to play an important role, but the issues in sustainable development are too complex to be tackled by single organisations (Loorbach, van Bakel et al. 2010). Therefore, business needs to form coalitions with different types of organisations (SustainAbility 2004). The level system of the SMM includes requirements regarding both expectations. The lower levels have to do with the internal processes and the highest level covers collaboration with other organisations. The levels are based on the Capability Maturity Model (Paulk, Curtis et al. 1993) that originated from software development and is now widely used as a basis for managing business processes in a stepwise approach (de Bruin, Rosemann et al. 2005). The level system follows the best practices for maturity models defined by De Bruin et al. (2005). The SMM does not present any final score on sustainability. For individual actors such as companies, ‘being sustainable’ is not possible since sustainability is a property of a system, not of an individual component (Nikolic 2009). The SMM does not prescribe a minimum level anywhere. Individual actors cannot be obliged to not perform unsustainable actions when they intend no harm and when the influence of those actions is too small to change anything (Sinnott-Armstrong 2010). Instead, companies are encouraged to define their own priorities and decide how strongly they want to perform on each individual topic. The SMM was reviewed in four steps: aligning the topics from the different standards, supplementing the topic list with findings from academic literature, fitting the level system to the CMM and the situation, and testing its operationalisation in a pilot. After the review, the SMM was operationalised by creating a leaflet that introduces potential participants to the pilot, an one-page introduction to the workshop, a presentation to guide the workshop, a set of forms to guide the consultant through the workshop and make quick notes on, and a format for the feedback report the companies received after the pilot. Eight companies in the chemical, food and energy industries with revenues of 176 million to 3,7 billion participated in the pilot. They were represented by one or two of their managers in sustainability (six companies) or communications (two companies). During the 3-hour workshops, the topics in the Sustainability Maturity Model were discussed one by one. After the workshops had been held, the participants received feedback reports that analysed their results as well as the average results of the entire group. The gap analysis and recommendations about topics to work on formed the core of these reports. The participants were phoned to discuss the value of this feedback and how it could be used within the company. From the perspective of the participants, the workshops and feedback reports were useful. The participants appreciated the broadness of the topics list, the structured approach, the face to face interaction, and the emphasis on prioritising. Applying the same management framework to each topic and being selective about the topics to work on was seen as a novel approach. Most of the participants felt that their feedback report provided useful input for determining the focus of their strategy. The SMM was tested with medium and larger sized companies and found suitable when the participants were open to the approach. According to an industry expert, it could be useful for smaller companies as well. The usefulness of the model depends on how open the company is to its approach of prioritising and advancing within a topic list. Even though literature research and the reactions from the participants show that the SMM is suitable for its intended use, several practical improvements could increase the usefulness of the SMM process further, the main recommendations being: conducting the workshop with multiple people to increase data quality, preparing them for the workshop better to save time during the workshop, and providing more detail on the requirements per topic in the feedback so it is easier for participants to define follow up actions. By doing workshops with a large group of similar companies the benchmarking function of the SMM can be improved, which is a feature the participants of the pilot asked for. Before this project, the concept of the SMM was defined, but it was not ready for use in a consultancy context yet. This project has strengthened the link between the SMM and current literature on sustainable development in the business context, has made the SMM usable, and the first pilot was conducted. The pilot was the first presentation of the SMM to potential users, and their predominantly positive reactions have shown that the SMM is now ready for use in a consultancy context. The SMM and the work done for it during this project are property of Ecomatters. This report contains the part of the information that was selected to be publicly available. Company results have been aggregated and anonymised, and parts of the analysis and description of the model have been omitted in this report to guarantee the confidentiality of this information. Parts of the analysis and description of the model were retained to serve as examples of the further development of the SMM and the results of that process. Subject sustainabilitysustainableagendaprioritybusinesspilotmodelconsultancymanageISO 14001SA 8000Capability Maturity ModelcompanyEMASDJSIISO 26000standardguidelinepeopleplanetprofitGRItopicleveloperationaliseorganisational capabilitymanagementmaturitycapabilityimprovementtestinterviewfeedbackworkshopbenchmarkcomparisonambitionsupply chainlife cyclestrategybusiness strategypartnershipcollaborationtriple bottom lineprioritisecomparecollaborateconsultconsultantcompaniesbusinessesimprovecapablemature To reference this document use: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:2f1d9ae2-7e26-4ac7-97ba-3cd9a185b33d Access restriction Campus only Part of collection Student theses Document type master thesis Rights (c) 2013 Wortel, M.C.