If you really want your business to become more sustainable, you need to look at the total picture of previously successful methods that have resulted in more sustainable processes, concludes PhD candidate Sjors Witjes. He was awarded his PhD in the University Hall of Utrecht University on 4 April.
Major industrial developments have a positive impact on human welfare in the West, while seriously undermining the environment and living conditions of people elsewhere on Earth. This is why sustainable development is becoming an increasingly important factor for companies wishing to improve their organisation. Reflecting the wider debate in society, we aim to achieve a positive impact in terms of people, planet and prosperity (the triple P). This includes, for example, better working conditions in factories, fewer emissions from production processes and fairer distribution of profits among employees in developing countries.
In this debate, businesses are still often seen in a negative light. By using the triple P to make their organisational processes more sustainable, businesses can not only enhance their image, as innovation scientist Sjors Witjes demonstrates in his dissertation, but also improve their performance as a whole.
Forgetting to consider the past
“Although businesses have a clear image of the future when attempting to make their organisational processes more sustainable, they forget to look back at the earlier organisational changes that have already made a successful contribution,” explains Witjes. “For some businesses, it helps if the director stands on a soapbox and for others a massive scoreboard of indicators in the factory hall can make a difference. But one thing applies to everyone: a clear understanding of successes from the past ensures that a strategy towards more sustainable operations is more realistic.”