Strategy Development

University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center - Creating the strategy for excellence

Situation:

•Granted $1.5m in seed funding from a foundation, the leadership of the sustainability center needed to start delivering results while also creating a long-term strategy and vision for their organization

Our Role:

•We assessed the Center’s strengths and mapped them against the current landscape of sustainability centers to identify the optimal role for the Center.

•In a nimble and interactive process, we helped the Center to identify its vision, mission and strategy and to create a strategic plan for its first 3 years.

•Beyond advising the Center on its strategy, Blu Skye also helped implement the strategic plan over one year; we supported the Center in developing and testing an innovation methodology, partnered with the center in designing and facilitating a food industry innovation summit, and helped steer the Center’s fundraising program for a food industry life cycle analysis and innovation project.

 

Results:

•The Center is successfully launched and has become recognized as one of the top university-based sustainability centers in the country.

•Launched major food/agriculture LCA project that will help meet the anticipated demand for measuring the food industry’s environmental impact; the Center is on path to obtain full funding and finalize a board of advisors.

•In partnership with another university, the Center co-directs an industry consortium, a group representing government, NGO, academic and business interests that is developing the standards to be used to rate the sustainable attributes of products.

Walmart’s Sustainability Strategy - Unlocking sustainable value for the world’s largest retailer

 

Situation:

•Wal-Mart’s initial request was for an environmental footprint to help them understand their risks. We proposed looking at the environment as a chance to lead, and develop a business strategy using sustainability as a lens to reveal hidden opportunities to create value.

Our Role:

•Leadership strategy development including:

–Developed high-level footprint for direct operations, supply chain, and products using an input output based model for consumer goods

–Prepared, in partnership with Conservation International, an executive briefing on the environmental issues of the 21st century

–Developed and facilitated strategic business process planning that included key leaders and a wide range of external stakeholders and resulted in plans to ‘lead’ or ‘compete’ in 14 areas

–Designed and conducted 2-day executive choice meeting

–Helped craft bold goals and public commitments that made it clear that breakthrough solutions were required and that there was no turning back on this new direction

 

•Strategy implementation - assisted with a wide range of implementation activities including:

–Created ‘sustainable value networks’ with suppliers, NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders to implement strategies and develop new innovations

–Built processes for employee education, engagement, and alignment around sustainability objectives to help embed it into the DNA of the company

Results:

•Year 1 implementation resulted in >$500M in ROI (revenue enhancement and cost reduction).

•Met or exceeded stretch goals around in-store and truck efficiency (between 2005 & 2008, Wal-Mart increased trucking efficiency by 38%, with plans to have it doubled by 2015).

•Drove product innovation and supply chain transformations in fish, jewelry, textiles, electronics, and other categories.  (e.g. Wal-Mart is working toward making all of its appliances Energy Star-rated).

•Created a source of competitive advantage to recruit and retain key leaders.  Successfully differentiated Wal-Mart in the marketplace. 

Large Entertainment Company - Using sustainability as an enabler in a rapidly changing environment

Situation:

•A large entertainment company wanted to pursue sustainability and needed to understand the implications for its business.  The company had a strong environmental compliance team, were ISO 14001 certified, were beginning voluntary carbon audits of productions, and were building a LEED-certified addition to the lot. However, it lacked an integrated sustainability strategy and the issue was not on the CEO’s radar.  The organization sought a compelling recommendation for why, where, and how to play at a corporate level (within the pictures division).


Our Role:

•Performed a 10-week strategy assessment that consisted of a stakeholder analysis, footprint assessment, and competitor benchmarking.

•Developed recommendations around 3 main areas:

–Sourcing areas within printing and distribution that provided economic and strategic advantage to minimize cost, carbon, water, waste, and toxicity by driving digital distribution

–Finding practices on production and set demolition which, if changed, could influence talent and lower production costs

–Discovering new ways to expand audiences for movies through non-profit and merchandise tie-ins to sustainability themes in movies

 

Results:

•CEO engagement: The CEO, impressed and engaged with the recommendations, sanctioned and chaired an Executive Steering Committee to organize the cross-corporate effort, set clear targets, and start working on quick wins and innovation projects.

Leading Magazine Distributor - Radically reducing waste in a publishing supply chain

Situation:

•Our client has a wide range of businesses including distribution and merchandising for music, video, books, and magazines as well as design, manufacturing and marketing of picture frames.  For four businesses, the client wanted a comprehensive sustainability strategy that would drive innovation and proactively prepare for a future where customers and other stakeholders would increasingly care about sustainability.

Our Role:

•Strategy development

–Analyzed the four businesses including environmental footprint, operational practices, strengths and opportunities

–Developed a recommended vision and strategy that included a portfolio of incremental and break-through initiatives

•Designed and conducted an executive choice meeting that brought together the leaders of the overall company and the four businesses

•Strategy implementation

–Facilitated a multi-stakeholder process to improve industry supply chain, reduce waste and improve sales for the magazine industry

–Helped launch sustainable operations activities

–Assisted with governance and metrics to track performance

–Assisted with identifying and screening new business opportunities

Results:

•Tens of millions of dollars of savings through reducing waste in the magazine industry

•Implemented a wide range of initiatives that have achieved sustainability and business benefits across the four businesses

Nutritional Leadership Strategy Summit - Aligning an executive team around a vision for healthy food

Situation:

•A food retailer approached Blu Skye for help in rapidly framing a strategy to improve the health of their employees and customers by improving the nutritional content of the American diet.

Our role:

•We designed and facilitated a one-day working meeting with the company’s food merchants and a selected group of 10 nutrition experts and advocates including Kelly Brownell, Marion Nestle, David Ludwig, Michael Jacobson, Barbara Rolls, and Hank Cardello. 

•The meeting engaged the group in defining the issues related to food and nutrition which, if addressed, would have the biggest impact on health; identifying the actions the company could take that would make a difference in these issue areas; and developing leadership strategies in 6 key areas arising from the brainstorm.   The company’s executives then created an action plan for implementation.

Results:

•The highly successful session resulted in an aligned executive team supporting action plans which are currently being implemented in several areas including:

•Driving improvement in formulation of private brands processed foods to reduce sodium, added sugar and trans fats and to increase fruit and vegetables

•Driving affordability, quality, and convenience of fresh produce products

Customer and employee education and communication about healthy eating

Global Apparel and Footwear Company - Envisioning a future of viable closed-loop material flows

Situation:

•In order to focus the efforts of their internal venture team in creating systemic change, our client wanted to understand what the world might look like at a time when 100% postconsumer take-back business models are viable.

Our Role:

•Scenario Planning – developed a point of view around the logic, drivers, key players, and value created in a post-consumer take back future, by:

–Developing, testing, and refining a set of key uncertainties and hypotheses to shape scenarios

–Iterating scenarios through interviews with industry experts and futurists, and developing insights and implications for our client

•Mapping Opportunities for Investment strategy

–Mapped spectrum of outcomes for our client based on the economic, social, political, and brand thresholds required to tip the scale towards a take-back future

–Developed preliminary set of opportunities for our client to invest/partner to shape a future that meets their and the worlds’ needs

–Ranked opportunities based on impact and ease of implementation. Examined at a high level, their financial and intangible value, and bucketed opportunities along a pathway optimizing value and impact

Results:

•Our client understands the marketplace in a way that is allowing them to make smarter investment decisions and plan for the future along a roadmap that we developed

•Our client holds key information on the driving forces and enabling factors that will shape the take-back future in 2030 and is aware of quick wins, innovative projects and game changing moves they can take to effect broader system change and be an industry leader on this effort


International Hospitality Company - Incorporating sustainability into corporate strategy

Situation:

•Our client approached Blu Skye to get help defining their corporate sustainability strategy.  They were struggling to understand the business case for sustainability, the macro/micro trends, what they were already doing throughout the company, and how to integrate sustainability across their global organization.

Our Role:

•We helped the leadership team understand how having a strategic approach to sustainability would benefit the bottom line through internal and external interviews, site visits, competitive analysis, and conducting a high-level environmental footprint

•We designed a step-by-step approach to focus company-wide efforts, starting by declaring big goals in energy, water, waste and carbon as well as focus areas around renewable energy and building and operations

•We found the opportunities that would generate the most sustainable value (value for the business and the environment).  Through identifying several opportunities that uncovered substantial cost saving and environmental benefit, we help them to leverage the best practices of company properties that had already demonstrated sustainability leadership and explore new and best practice technologies.

Results:

•Blu Skye’s work helped our client validate the economic value of an integrated data-driven approach to sustainability

•In 2008, our client committed to significant reductions in energy consumption, CO2 emissions, waste output and water consumption over the next 5 years. In addition, to these measurable targets, they committed to focusing on some high-impact areas that offer potential for long-term benefits, including sustainable buildings & operations and advancing renewable energy as a viable, cost effective source of power for their hotels globally

•In 2009, our client launched a proprietary system of measurement for sustainability performance that helps improve the guest experience and drive economic returns.  This made our client the first major hospitality company to make sustainability measurement a brand standard.

Commitment to sustainability leadership

Situation:

While a large, leading office supplies retailer had made significant headway on many sustainability initiatives, it lacked commitment from leadership and a cohesive sustainability strategy.

Our Role:

  • Engaged the client’s senior leadership team in exploring what sustainability meant for them, their employees, and the organization as a whole to better understand cultural readiness for sustainability leadership.
  • Led significant internal and external research and analysis to establish a current reality and context for the client’s sustainability performance today and implications for the future.
  • Developed a comprehensive list of sustainability trends driving the need for change, reviewed and analyzed current business and sustainability efforts, and benchmarked 19 other companies on sustainability practices.
  • Supported the initial implementation planning efforts and fully managed four primary workstreams focused on product, packaging, metrics, and associate engagement.
  • Educated and trained the buyer community on key sustainability information and a rollout of the strategy to key vendor partners.
  • Developed a financial model for identifying packaging savings from sustainability improvements.

Results:

  • Developed cohesive sustainability strategy comprised of four strategic pillars relevant to the client’s environmental impacts and two foundational planks necessary for the strategy to be successful in the organization’s culture.
  • Built roadmap with key activities and milestones for company to finalize, adopt, and begin implementing strategy.
  • Identified $100M in savings from sustainable packaging improvements.
  • Co-created business plans with internal teams for major workstreams and led sustainability 101 training.

 

Finding sustainable value for a global retailer

Situation:

Our client's initial request was for an environmental footprint to help them understand their risks. We proposed looking at the environment as a chance to lead, and develop a business strategy using sustainability as a lens to reveal hidden opportunities to create value.

Our Role:

  • Developed high-level footprint for direct operations, supply chain, and products using an input output based model for consumer goods.
  • Developed and facilitated strategic business process planning that included key leaders and a wide range of external stakeholders and resulted in plans to ‘lead’ or ‘compete’ in 14 areas.
  • Created ‘sustainable value networks’ with suppliers, NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders to implement strategies and develop new innovations.

Results:

  • Project implementation has resulted in >$300M in ROI (revenue enhancement and cost reduction).
  • Met or exceeded stretch goals around in-store and truck efficiency (between 2005 & 2008, our client increased trucking efficiency by 38%, with plans to have it doubled by 2015).
  • Drove product innovation and supply chain transformations in fish, jewelry, textiles, electronics, and other categories.  (e.g. our client is working toward making all of its appliances Energy Star-rated).
  • Created a source of competitive advantage to recruit and retain key leaders.  Successfully differentiated our client in the marketplace.