CEOs around the world are currently reevaluating their business strategies to make their businesses ready for sustainable development and growth. This is because many traditional sources of growth are drying up quickly and all other forms of tried and tested strategy are no longer enough to sustain a business. Businesses at present are at the mercy of newer regulations, lukewarm consumer demand and operational business models. On the other hand, there are a multitude of issues that are changing everything known to humanity at a rapid pace. From major shifts in the global economic arena to the shift in demographics, rapid urbanization, increasing climate change, depleting resources and mind-boggling technological innovations, change has become predominant across all sectors of business.
The need of the hour is to implement business strategies that can be executed across different levels of the at this point and also demonstrate quick results while being capable of adapting to the changing conditions in the business. As a result, a hybrid approach of combining sustainable goals along with certain measures that can impact the short term benefits depending on the current changes have the best chance of succeeding.
Understanding sustainable development
Sustainable development could be defined as a form of development that matches the short-term needs of the business without compromising on its long-term goals and needs. The problems most organizations face when it comes to developing strategies for sustainable development is the lag between the short-term and long-term factors involved in sustainable development strategies.
One of the examples that highlight this lag between short and long term factors is the response to the global warming trends, predicting the rise in sea levels. This is something that would require a drastic response from the government. Coastlines will have to be re-engineered, new and improved construction codes will need to be implemented and so on. However, these initiatives are being ignored as they require a long term approach and investments along the coastline continue to be made despite the fact that these investments may not be sustainable in the long run.
The need for sustainable long-term development
One of the aspects that are clear at present is the fact that there is a lack of action towards addressing crucial issues such as global climate change, loss of biodiversity, poverty and other significant issues that would have a greater impact on the future generations. This is because a majority of the long term impacts are usually accumulative in nature or will only be revealed in the distant future.
While it is inevitable, at this point, to implement adaptation strategies into the business, prevention is something that should not be omitted completely. Strategies need to be developed in a way that they are adaptive and preventive at the same time. This will make sure that the long-term development plan would be applied. This is why a hybrid combination of short and long term strategy is the best way to approach sustainable development and also to minimize any damage to the economy.
The need for short term goals
While the importance of long-term goals cannot be ignored, it is tough to fund projects without any immediate financial return or returns high-value benefits to the existing community. One of the reasons why many businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to implement a sustainable development strategy is because they may have separated the concepts of long and short term goals instead of finding synergistic solutions.
If a viable, sustainable development strategy needs to be achieved, then it is imperative to tap into short-term high-value projects that can benefit the current community and as a result can contribute towards the economy. It can be very difficult to obtain any form of funding for sustainable development when you fail to achieve short term benefits. Investing in the future alone is a strategy that has never been very successful. Investing solely in the future generations does little to effect immediate results. Consequently, it is crucial that an approach, which provides short-term benefits, while at the same time incorporates a long-term agenda, needs to be adopted in the development of a sustainable business strategy.
Identifying the right opportunity
It is evident that a combination of short term and long term goals is the only way to go about developing a sustainable development strategy for your business. A large number of examples can be seen in the environmental sector. One case study that combined both long term and short term goals to drive funding. It included construction of cycling lanes surrounded by green corridors. These corridors could play a crucial role in helping the biodiversity to flourish. However, it wouldn’t have been possible to implement the strategy without the appeal that the cycling lanes provided. So here, the long term goal was to ensure a sustainable management of biodiversity and the short term goal was to provide a much needed infrastructural facility for the people.
Similarly, a business needs to justify long term benefits with short-term returns. It is imperative to procure sufficient funding for the long term goals and maintain a sustainable development strategy that not only looks after the immediate and long-term needs but is also flexible and can adapt to changes in the business environment.