Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Sustainable Business Decisions – A How-to Case Study of BC Hydro

Published on October 13, 2010

Just before they slam the door and head out into the world, we hope our kids hear our reminder, “Make good decisions.”

It’s all about choices. Good decision making often has immediate benefits. It also sets you on the right path, keeps you out of trouble and prepares you for a healthy and productive future.

We’d all like a window into the teenage brain to know what triggers a good decision. Equally, in the world of business, economics and government, we need to understand the dynamics of the decision-making process to achieve a “good” outcome.

In my mind, a “good” outcome means immediate positive results that lead to a healthy and productive future and ultimately, a sustainable world.  To get there, businesses and governments need to establish new parameters in their decision-making processes. They need to retool how they think and act.

This means introducing a new decision-making structure, literally changing their organizational mind set. It’s one thing for an individual to do this, but how do companies embed, throughout their organizations, a whole new way of making “good” decisions?

In some ways it is business as usual. But in others, it’s business as unusual because people must learn to do new things in new ways. For example, companies need to consider how to:

  • Introduce social and environmental factors into budgeting,
  • Integrate sustainability into capital projects and
  • Incorporate social and environmental impact analysis into product development.

These days I hear from companies and organizations looking for ways to integrate sustainability and CSR into their budget, planning, risk management, human resource and procurement management systems.

That’s why I approached BC Hydro, a sustainability leader, to record its approach to integrated decision-making.  With funding from Industry Canada, I co-authored a case study that describes how BC Hydro uses what it calls “structured decision making” to embed social, environmental and economic factors into business decisions across the organization.

The case study demonstrates that it is possible, practical and rewarding to integrate triple-bottom-line thinking into organizational decision making – and that often it leads to outcomes that are better on all three bottom lines.

Triple-Bottom-Line and Structured Decision Making: a Case Study of BC Hydro is freely available on my website and Industry Canada’s. I hope it helps you introduce sustainable thinking into your organization.

Now let’s go make good decisions – but don’t slam the door!

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