An outside source of drive and inspiration for many organizations and individuals can be found in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a unique initiative in voluntary global responsibility with clear targets and deadlines. When a company considers the development of an SDG initiative but does not have the resources to conduct full-fledged detailed research on this, the need for a simple and straightforward SDG analysis arises. Applying the SDG Proposition Canvas in a workshop format is aimed at addressing exactly that need.
Applying the SDG Proposition Canvas: Workshop instructions
Time required: 2½ to 3 hours
The total workshop can be organized with an audience of approximately 8 to 12 people, preferably with diverse backgrounds. Some participants can be external experts on specific topics such as for instance climate change, lifecycle analysis, packaging or water preservation.
- To apply the canvas, make sure to start with the list of material sustainability topics for the firm. This is the time to reuse the previously constructed materiality matrix (if it exists, of course). If not, a solid brainstorming with the participants can set the proper base for the exercise.
- Next, ask the participants to each create up to five post-it note items containing the company’s most relevant strategic initiatives.
- Briefly discuss the initiatives and cluster them where applicable.
- As a last step in the preparation phase, determine in plenary the geographies best suited for the company to target the SDG initiatives as not all companies can address all topics globally.
Once the premises for the exercise have been laid out (materiality matrix + strategic initiatives + target geographies), the main feature of the workshop can commence.
- Participants are to conduct a brainstorm in pairs on potential sustainability initiatives, again with post-it notes. Once there is a decent number of initiatives displayed on the wall, have the participants explain their ideas, and again cluster them if necessary.
- When the idea generation is completed, plot the proposed initiatives into the quadrants of potential societal and business impacts through plenary discussion and select jointly the most attractive initiatives; if needed through voting. Limiting the number of initiatives to a maximum of about 5 is recommendable as successful execution requires focus.
- Draw lines between the individual SDGs and the selected initiatives.
- Finally, as a sort of regression test, reconnect the initiatives to the company’s material sustainability topics, must-win battles and geographies.
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