Progressing on Sustainability within your Institution: Leading Transformation Part One

2021-Executive Academy-Leading-Transformation

EFMD Professional Development offers a ten-day-long programme focusing on two aspects of business school transformation essentials: digitalisation and sustainability

With all that requires our attention these days, sustainability may not seem like such an urgent matter in comparison. The topic of sustainability has been present in the management education scene for quite some time, and the need to progress on the implementation is certainly not a brand-new concept. The number of institutions adding sustainability to mission and purpose is steadily rising. Still, in one too many cases, we have yet to truly progress from treating sustainability as a simple add on to fully embracing and embedding it in the institutional culture.

Embedding sustainability

So why has management education not mastered the sustainability embedment yet?

For one, sustainability is a slippery concept. It means very little if we don’t give it meaning. It is interdisciplinary, it is present everywhere, which easily translates to “nowhere”, and it concerns everyone, which is just a step away from “not me” and “someone else can do it”. It can be costly, and there is always the challenge of how to measure the progress. Consequently, individuals and teams often have hard times seeing the real impact of their work. It is no wonder the implementation efforts meet with resistance.

As a result of avoiding the resistance, we see scenarios such as focusing on the easy wins and “preaching to the already converted”, embedding it disproportionately throughout curricula as it is much easier to talk about sustainability in a strategy course than in accounting or finance, keeping sustainability detached from the core, offering it purely in the form of electives or taking advantage of the ambiguity and resorting to general statements.

Since sustainability is only a fraction of the overall performance, at the end of the day, it might seem like the costs are much greater than the benefits. And maybe in a short-term perspective, that could be true. Although if we know something about sustainability, it is that the short-term is not precisely what it is about.

Stepping up the sustainability game

We are increasingly aware of the urgency of the matter and that if we want a positive future for our children, we need to step up our game. Becoming more synchronised with what is happening globally and aligning the mission, purpose and strategy with tangible actions could mean a great advantage on the business education market. If only to strengthen our offerings and increase its relevancy.

We are going through an unprecedented transformation. Our industry, as we have known it, is rapidly changing, and it is mainly up to us to decide what are we going to put in place and what are the new goals and standards to aspire to. Sustainability needs to be in those goals and standards. We need to take the chance and bring down the barriers that have been slowing our progress till now. It will certainly not get any easier with time.

Leading the sustainability transformation

So how do we address and overcome the challenges and the barriers?

In the upcoming programme Leading Transformation: A sustainable, digital and personal leadership journey, Andreas Rasche, will focus on the nuts and bolts of business school sustainability implementation. We will talk about the meaning of sustainability in the context of business education, how to identify and address the current barriers and how to adopt a holistic approach.

Since a successful implementation of sustainability depends heavily on the approach of individual leaders, the programme also attends to personal leadership skills to build a sound foundation to navigate the ambiguous waters of sustainability.

For more information, contact Anna Jirova. We look forward to seeing you soon!