In today’s article I’m talking to Rollo de Sausmarez. We’ll be discussing the key areas businesses NEED to tackle in 2022 and beyond to stay relevant for their increasingly digital first, environmentally-conscientious customers.
I was extremely lucky to work with Rollo at Healthspan, the leading online Vitamins and Supplements supplier in the UK. As Director of New Product Marketing and Development, Rollo deeply understood how subtle changes and emerging trends could change the very nature of what and how we sell our goods or services. It was his job to define the product road map which could sometimes, in VMS, be a difficult pill to swallow.
I remember being introduced to a new product by him that no one in the UK was talking about, yet. So unknown and controversial was this product Rollo would have to simultaneously champion it within the business, help the UK and European regulators define its status whilst developing one of the best and safest versions in the VMS market. That product is CBD and it has become one of Healthspan’s most successful products. Now Rollo is the MD of Beyond Strategy and his new business has gotten off to an environmentally friendly, flying start. He’s providing vital support to businesses that need to innovate and find new marketing, digital and business strategies in what has become one of the most transformative of times.
After reading this article please head over to https://www.beyondstrategy.gg/ to learn more about Beyond Strategy and how they can help your business.
Rollo, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Today we are going to focus on environmental strategies and other trends you’ve been talking to businesses about.
Q1. We hear so much about the “Green Economy” but what actually is it?
It’s important to understand that since the Industrial Revolution we have been in the “Brown Economy” which is powered and run on hydrocarbons in the form of non-renewable fossil fuels. A “Green Economy” is where we need to get to or “Transition”. It is powered by renewable energy but specifically is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive too. In the “Green Economy”, growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into only those things with lowered carbon emissions and reduced pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and that prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems.
Q2. At this year’s COP in Glasgow, speakers talked about how vitally important it is for business and the markets to help drive the Green Economy. Have you seen businesses start to tackle their environmental responsibilities head on? What are the advantages of going green now vs delaying?
Businesses ignoring important macro trends risk making themselves less relevant to their customers and more likely to fail. The increasing awareness of the need to act on climate change is no different, except that climate change is an existential threat, and therefore a scale of magnitude bigger than those that have come before. Some businesses are burying their heads in the sand, but some are not; the most dynamic businesses, social enterprises, large sophisticated businesses and those with heavy exposure to the hydrocarbon economy are making the most fundamental changes right now.
Being a responsible business, putting ESG at the heart of things has rapidly gone from being a potential competitive advantage to being a mandatory part of a businesses offering in many sectors. Those who act now, or have already acted will be of increased relevance to customers, will be more efficient, will find it easier to attract the best talent and investment. Those that don’t will be less relevant and more wasteful and will struggle to attract new customers, bright staff and economical finance.
Q3. Is there really a quick fix to this? Do businesses just need to offset their carbon footprint by paying money to a business that will plant some trees?
As with lots of things the process is relatively simple, but actually doing it requires focus and attention. With my work at the Sustainable Business Initiative we have identified 3 steps.
Decide to act. Change won’t occur until a decision is made that the business wants it to happen
Appoint a sustainability champion. Things only get done when it’s someone’s job. Make it someone’s job, or better still, part of everyone’s job.
Apply an ESG framework. Signing up to an Environment Social & Governance framework that is appropriate to your sector will help you measure your impact now and help plan for change.
Once on this road, businesses will understand their biggest impacts and biggest risks so that they can be mitigated.
The speed of transition will depend on many factors, but biggest of all is the level of exposure or reliance on the hydrocarbon based economy. If your core business proposition is burning hydrocarbons, if you’re a gas company or an airline for example, then your transition is complex and needs some careful thought, planning and no small amount of innovation.These are considerable challenges and I feel we have a duty as citizens and consumers to help these businesses transition.
Finally, the COP26 definition of Net Zero, (and therefore the only one that really matters) does not recognise offsetting as a valid approach except as a last resort, for those unavoidable emissions that cannot be reduced or mitigated any other way.
Q4. Other than the Environmental impact, when you talk to businesses, what are common areas that need to be addressed that aren’t?
We‘ve talked about transitioning to the “Green Economy”, but the other challenges that come up are, at their heart, also about managing transitions. Innovation is about creating a pipeline of new and improved offerings that ensure your business proposition is relevant to the future economy. The trend towards digital-first and the rapid growth in automation and AI processes are about transitioning to a more digital future with greater efficiencies and less admin. All of these transitions need to have the strategy in place, the right technology identified and the people brought along too. These type of things are actually better done from the outside-in with external help, minimising the disruption to in-house teams and not letting business as usual suffer.
Q5. Any type of business transformation is hugely complex, and it’s much easier and cheaper in the short term, to talk a good game. What people, tech and strategies do businesses need to put in place before they even get started so that they can actually implement what they talk about?
It’s hard to give general guidance about what strategies, people, and tech need to be put in place without looking at the specific case, but they will definitely need trusted insight informing a clear and well thought out strategy, and the right people, pulling together in the right direction, supported by the right tech and training to make the transitioning work. In that order.