A Bottom-up Approach to Environmental Sustainability

This Fortune 50 Company—one of  North America’s largest supermarket chains—was facing a new challenge.  The marketplace was shifting because of pressure for emissions disclosure and increasing demand from environmentally conscience customers. To respond to this new challenge, they created a small corporate responsibility team, consisting of executive leadership from their Retail, HR, IT and other departments.  What was the team’s first major action?  Solicit environmentally friendly project ideas from their front line employees.  This bottom-up approach yielded over 400 ideas, with topics ranging from biodegradable diapers to supply chain modifications.  The team had no mechanism to prioritize or align these project ideas with their goals and, as you can imagine, were overwhelmed and unsure how to take the next step.

 They asked PA Consulting Group to help incorporate these project ideas into their strategic goal of becoming “the premier retailer in the grocery sector by using environmentally responsible business practices.”  We scanned the company for environmental issues that could affect its bottom line and developed environmental issue categories.  The submitted project ideas were then filtered by a set of criteria and aligned with the environmental issue categories & strategic goals.  The matrix shown below (click to enlarge) was created and used to:

  •  Identify the departments (HR, IT, Retail, etc) that were best suited to lead a specific project
  • Find gaps between project outcomes and their sustainability objectives
  • Prioritize projects within a portfolio
  • Determine how to monitor and measure project success

The completed strategy matrix helped facilitate conversation, execute decisions and begin scoping projects.  Additionally, it helped to prioritize the workload, improve project planning & estimating and create an effective governance structure.  By combining PA’s “tried and true” methodologies with input from employees on the front line, the client  was able to address challenges and seize opportunity in the changing marketplace.  They were able to quickly and effectively define a portfolio of projects and improve the chances of project success.

-Joel Cervelloni

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