Addressing the Challenges
How NBS Will Address the Challenges
As in past years, the Leadership Council identified the Sustainability Challenges that are most important for researchers to study. NBS focuses on two of the top challenges every year. For 2013, the Leadership Council selected the second and third challenges to research: Collaboration and Civic Engagement. (The first challenge – a lack of clear, effective Public Policy – is still a major gap for Canadian companies, but in 2011 NBS conducted a comprehensive review of all the academic literature on the topic. See the Executive Report. The next step requires action by government.)
NBS issues a call for proposals to find the best research team in the world capable of addressing the Collaboration issue. We will form a guidance committee consisting of Leadership Council members and academic advisors to ensure the research ends up being both scientifically rigorous and relevant to industry. We will also convene academic and industry thought leaders to address the issue of Civic Engagement.
Finding New Ways to Connect Academia and Industry
2013 marks an opportunity to change the way we do things. “For the last five years, we have focused on conducting the world’s most rigorous research on issues that matter to business,” said Bansal. “We have an opportunity now to expand our work to include not only research but also insights from practice.”
Starting with the 2013 Challenges, NBS is committed to building current practices from leading companies into its rigorous research findings. “It takes a few years for academic research to emerge on a given issue,” said Karen Clarke-Whistler of TD Bank. “And in that time, companies on the front lines have forged their own paths through trial and error.”
“Looking in the rearview mirror isn’t going to give us the quantum leap forward we need,” agreed Debbie Baxter of LoyaltyOne.
NBS sees an opportunity to build innovative new models of collaboration between academia and industry. Over the next year, NBS will commit to conducting its backward-looking research more quickly and layering it with more current sources and practices. We will connect industry thought leaders with leading academics interested in solving the same problems. And we will convene peer-to-peer learning workshops in which industry leaders and academics can discuss current practices, in the context of the most recent research. “I like the idea of trying a new, creative model. We have great thinkers at the table,” said Grete Bridgewater.
“The change in NBS’s research process is symptomatic of the overall mood of business leaders today,” said Professor Bansal. “They are tired of making incremental steps forward and are hungry for major change. I’m excited about the possibilities of what academic and
industry thought leaders can achieve together.”
Going Forward: How Researchers Can Address the 2013 Challenges
- Research. Share these Challenges with colleagues in management and related disciplines (engineering, psychology, etc.). Investigate any of the current or past Challenges in your own research. Share the Challenges with students looking for research questions. Contact NBS if you are conducting research in the area of these Sustainability Challenges (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Education. Raise these Sustainability Challenges in classroom discussions. Invite business leaders to speak to classes on how these Challenges affect their organizations and how they are addressing them. Consider building the 2013 and past Sustainability Challenges into curriculum design and sharing them with colleagues and administrators who can do the same.
Going Forward: How Business Leaders Can Address the 2013 Challenges
- Raise awareness of these Challenges by sharing the report with peers and with members of your professional associations and industry associations.
- Embrace a mindset shift. Continue picking the “low-hanging fruit” that remains in your organization to reduce your environmental impacts. But know that, to become truly sustainable, companies of the future will aim not to minimize their harm on people and the environment but to create positive societal impact.
- Seek out credible resources to inform your decision-making and organizational planning. Build partnerships with academic experts and their institutions.
- Commit to taking risks and fostering innovation in your organization.
- Seek out examples of other leaders, and tell their stories and yours to employees, customers and peers so others can learn from them.
- Fund a research project through NBS.