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Can agile principles help business to become more sustainable?

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ESG and sustainability can be overwhelming topics and you may think to yourself; where do you start? How can you create meaningful change? 

Sustainable development is now very much a clear corporate priority, with legislative targets mandated by the UN and an ever-increasing passion to “do good” within our workforce. Organisations need to deliver long-term stakeholder value through the implementation of a business strategy which focuses on the sustainable (ethical, social, environmental, cultural and economic) dimensions of doing business. 

What if you could use an agile approach to tackle the enormity of this transformation? You could turn big numbers into manageable chunks, whilst adopting an inclusive, collaborative, self-organising team approach to harness the passion and enthusiasm of your workforce. 

Use agile principles, supported by effective change management, to unlock a sustainable path. 

Agile principle: build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done

Building projects around motivated individuals is probably one of the easiest things you can do to drive sustainability up. Data is showing us that people care now more than ever about the sustainable practices within organisations.  

Build successful teams and projects by:  

  • Enabling a governance structure to support the initiatives. 
  • Providing teams with a platform to communicate and engage. 
  • Ensuring your organisational vision and objectives aligns to sustainable progression. 
  • Investing in the development of motivated individuals through training programmes and learning experiences.

Agile principle: our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery

Delivering continuous sustainable improvements ensures your organisation builds and maintains motivation and engagement with sustainable initiatives, whilst remaining a competitive and desirable place to work.  

Underpinned by your sustainable organisational vision and objectives, benefits management enables you to realise sustainable benefits early and continuously: 

  • Understand how benefits will be measured 
  • Define who will benefit, and when
  • Ensure there are clear owners for the benefits

Agile principle: welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage

It’s essential to embrace change and ensure your organisation evolves with the changing landscape within sustainability.  

Corporate sustainability continues to develop, with changing requirements due to: 

  • External factors, such as legislative requirements and geopolitical tensions. 
  • Internal factors, such as changes in culture or strategic direction. 

Using effective change management, communication and engagement allows you to embrace change and use it as a force for good. 

Effective change management: the key to success 

Transitioning to become a sustainable business is organisational change — it impacts every area of your business and people who interact with it. Without people driving the change, you will not achieve your vision or goals.  

Ongoing communication and engagement: 

  • Motivates individuals, ensuring progress
  • Builds trust that you are on a sustainable path 
  • Provides clarity and direction for projects
  • Creates better relationships and team building, supporting those self-organising teams 
  • Increases engagement, encouraging employees to act on initiatives

Transparency of progress and targets ensures your organisation is held accountable to making sustainable decisions, taking into consideration the impact on people, the planet and profit. Transparency can be easily achieved through: 

  • Annual impact reporting 
  • Achieving sustainable certifications 

In conclusion, by using these agile principles you can make inroads into your vast and overwhelming sustainability journey but be mindful of setting realistic targets which focus on delivering short term value over long term goals to maintain a motivating culture. Good luck! 


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