Developing a Roadmap for Sustainability

Chapter 13: Download Plotting the Future here
Developing a Roadmap for Sustainability
Publ. date 7 Dec 2018
When sustainability becomes an integral part of business, its legacy is ensured for future generations and stakeholders to enjoy. Plotting the Future is a holistic tool to facilitate the development of a high-level roadmap for the implementation planning of a company’s sustainability strategy. It is based on back-casting, a technique that starts by projecting a future objective on a time horizon and then plans backwards towards the present.

Plotting the Future workshop instructions
Time required: 3½ hours

The purpose of the tool is to develop a concrete roadmap: how to get from the current situation to the desired objectives. During the workshop, a team of 4 to 8 persons develops an action plan to achieve the goals set. If required, several teams can work in parallel, for instance to cover the objectives of different business units.

Step 1: Defining the ‘North Star’

The team assignment starts with jointly developing this future objective: what is the end of the planned time horizon (e.g. in five years), and what will we have achieved by then? Teams can write this future objective in the sun in the time chart.

Step 2: Future statements - setting and prioritizing milestones

Next, the team is tasked with prioritizing the milestones, which are presented in the form of future statement cards. These cards cover a broad array of topics and are supposed to represent focal points for the project. For instance, future statement cards might state milestones such as “We created a Green Team to work on climate change”, “We conducted a Life Cycle Analysis of all our packaging” or “Our entire organization was made aware of the strategic decisions and upcoming changes”.

Examples of future statement cards from a wine industry workshop are available in the download section and can be adapted to specific needs and prepared upfront. During the workshop, participants can also create additional milestones to complement the pre-prepared ones, hence it is advisable to bring a few blank cards to produce additional future statement cards on the go. Once all potential milestones are generated, the next task is of course to prune the list and prioritize these milestones. A maximum of 15 statements should be selected and placed on the time horizon at the bottom of the time chart.

Step 3: Developing the Action Plan

When all selected future statements have been organized on the time chart, the action plan can be developed. Based upon the selected statements, a detailed planning needs to be developed, containing features such as actions to take, required resources, who will be responsible, which stakeholders need to be involved and the scheduling of the actions.

At the end of this process, a complete roadmap is delivered, enabling the team(s) to get started on implementations. To improve even further the actionability of the roadmap, it is often a good idea to also develop a 100-days plan explicitly, including actions, timing and resources. A template for the 100-day action plan is available in the download section.

Recommended additional reading:

  • Access the full case: Unilever Production Cluster in Tula: Zero Non-Hazardous Waste to Landfill in Ten Months (Case A + Case B)

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