From Open Sustainability
Sustainability Governance is how sustainability is managed across the organization. This includes staff skill sets, policies, procedures and processes, organizational structures and technology.
Key Success Factors
Due the nature of sustainability, everyone has a role to play in how it is governed and many of the most important roles are played by individuals that are fairly junior in the organization. There must, however, be individuals dedicated to Sustainability Governance. These roles are filled by senior executives such as the Chief Sustainability Officer, Sustainability Architects and Sustainability Stewards.
Efficient Operating Models
The Sustainability Governance approach should define an organizational structure that most effectively handles the complexities of the organization. The common standards, methods, architecture and collaborative techniques that are all part of Sustainability Governance are what allow this model to be implemented in a physically central, virtual or offshore model. Assessment tools and techniques should be provided to move to these new organizational models in a progressive fashion over time.
A Common Methodology
A Sustainability Governance program should include a common set of activities, tasks and deliverables to build a competency that is specialized for Sustainable Development. This enables greater reuse of artifacts and resources as well as higher productivity out of individuals. It also helps bring out the commonalities of different initiatives across the organization.
A common definition of terms, standards and design patterns is one of the fundamental building blocks of Sustainability . Business and technical definitions should be represented and the lineage between them easy to navigate.
An Sustainability Governance approach should be comprehensive in its scope. This comprehensive scope can only be brought together with an architecture-driven approach and well defined roles and responsibilities.
Sustainability Value Assessment
A Sustainability Value Assessment should provide a mechanism to assign an economic value to the assets an organizations holds and the resulting impacts of Sustainability Governance practices on this value. It must also measure whether the return outweighs the cost and the time required to attain this return. This is an area where current methods are particularly immature but some models do exist.
Senior Leaders increasingly face great pressure due to sustainability issues. Senior Leaders must align and work towards a common goal of improved information, while appreciating many sustainability practices is still immature as a discipline and that there will be some major challenges ahead.
A Sustainability Governance program will need to address complex issues across the organization. Improvements will typically be measured over months and years, not days. Therefore, a strategic approach is required so that a comprehensive program of work can be implemented over long periods of time through multiple release cycles. The strategic approach will be at a level of detail that allows for flexibility to change but still meaningful enough to deal with complex issues.
It is not always cost-effective to fix all issues in a certain area, but to instead follow the “80/20 rule”. A Sustainability Governance program should explicitly plan to re-visit past activities and build on a working baseline through audits, monitoring, technology re-factoring and personnel training. Organizations should look for opportunities to “release early, release often” but remember what this means from a planning and budgeting perspective.
Flexibility for Change
While a Sustainability Governance program involves putting standards in place, it must have an inbuilt pragmatism and flexibility for change. A strong governance process doesn’t mean that exceptions can’t be granted, only that it must be known when exceptions are occurring. The Continuous Improvement approach means that some workarounds can be initially granted and then re-factored at a later point in time in order to balance short-term business priorities.
Measuring the effectiveness of an Sustainability Governance program requires tools to capture information and performance.