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YOU WILL GATHER BY NOW that a huge frustration of mine is that a high proportion of what sustainability practitioners do is activity for activity’s sake. We get networks of green champions, ‘engagement’ which focuses on employees’ personal lives instead of their day job and endless supplier questionnaires. At best, this is done because that’s what other sustainability practitioners do; at worst, it is deliberately avoiding the elephant in the room.

One key benefit of the 80/20 Rule is that by forcing you to concentrate on the 80 percent of your impacts rather than the trivial 20 percent, you tackle sustainability elephants head on, avoiding ‘greenwash’ if nothing else. If you treat all problems as equal, then you can end up wasting energy on cracking insignificant but difficult problems when more significant problems may actually be easier to solve.

Even if those problems are difficult, by ‘zooming in’ on a core set of objectives, the efforts, experience and ingenuity of your colleagues get focused on the issues that matter, rather than trying to ‘do everything’. Too many sustainability efforts deliberately try to catch every issue in a big net, confusing and intimidating colleagues, and ultimately leading to overwhelm.
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Keywords: employee engagement; green business; product design; strategy; supply chain

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2014

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