Yesterday, Joel Makower of GreenBiz wrote a piece (http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/07/24/should-sustainability-execs-shun-s-word?page=0%2C0&utm_source=E-News%20from%20GreenBiz&utm_campaign=e24e952368-GreenBuzz-2012-25-07&utm_medium=email) about how findings in a recent study suggest that sustainability execs in the corporate world need to put their sustainability creds on the back burner and first get buy in around their business skills in order to achieve what they are trying to accomplish. The study, conducted by VOX Global and others, found that these execs …. a select group from large, global companies …. value change management and business leadership skills higher than subject matter knowledge when it comes to sustainability. Interesting … and not surprising to me.
Why do I say not surprising? Well, this whole sustainability journey we’re on reminds me of the “lean” and “quality” transformations we experienced in the 1990s. I led a few of those transformations myself. Back then, many folks were concerned about how to convince peers/colleagues/bosses/supervisees that the end result of the change initiative would be good and, therefore, that the large amount of work to be done would be valuable. Sure, some of their argument was based on the “science” of lean and TQM, but a lot of how they achieved what they did boiled down to their interpersonal skills and business acumen. So too today, as we seek again to transform our businesses into something better. Yes, you need the subject matter knowledge, but you need to know how to get it done. It’s a balance that anyone who’s interested in getting involved in the field would be wise to understand.