Start now! Advice for Sustainability Leads

Embracing Incremental Innovation: A Blueprint for Chief Sustainability Officers

Sustainability, Environmental Social Governance (ESG), and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are no longer optional; they have become vital components of modern business practices. While the urgency to act is more prominent than ever, the traditional approach of launching massive, high-risk programmes can be counterproductive.

Here’s why and what you, as a Chief Sustainability Officer, should consider instead.

1. High Visibility, High Risk

Highly visible programmes are often associated with immense public expectations. Yet, if the economic climate worsens, these are the very programmes that may be axed. Big initiatives run a considerable risk of cancellation, hence the need for a more resilient approach.

2. Unlocking Diversity through Experiments

Large, monolithic initiatives can stifle creativity. Instead, create small, measured experiments that can be costed and implemented quickly. These nimble approaches encourage diversity in thought and action, aligning with the organisation’s goals and adapting to the ever-changing business environment.

3. Emphasising Cost Efficiency

In times of financial pressure, every penny counts. By focusing on quick wins and small-scale projects, you can deliver value efficiently, maintaining momentum without unnecessary expenditure.

4. Incubating the Future

Innovation thrives in an environment that nurtures and grows ideas. By relinquishing a command-and-control approach, your organisation can foster creativity and catalyse lasting change.

5. Keeping Pace with Change

The world is evolving incredibly, and large companies often struggle to keep up. Setting direction and empowering your team to ideate, innovate, and implement in small cycles ensures alignment with rapid external changes.

6. Prioritising with Purpose

Integrating a prioritisation algorithm that evaluates ideas against Planet Value, People Value, and Prosperity Value can lead to a more nuanced and ethical decision-making. Weight your initiatives accordingly to ensure alignment with broader societal needs.

7. Creating a Shared Vision

A purposeful vision acts as a unifying force, inspiring your team to rally behind common goals. You can foster a culture of shared responsibility by articulating and embracing this vision.

8. Engaging Your Supply Chain

Your supply chain is an extension of your team. Involving them in your sustainability journey creates a more cohesive, efficient, and innovative ecosystem.

9. Accelerating Value Release

Move quickly, release value more, and evolve the future without delay. Embracing agility helps create a great company to work for while averting the pitfalls of massive programmes that lead to cancellations and financial losses.


Embracing a more dynamic and incremental approach to Sustainability, ESG, and CSR isn’t just wise; it’s essential. As a Chief Sustainability Officer, your ability to innovate, adapt, and drive meaningful change can shape the future. By focussing on small, value-driven cycles of change, you not only mitigate risk but pave the way for an organisation that’s robust, responsive, and resonant with today’s needs.

Remember, it’s not about the size of the change but the value and vision it embodies. Your journey starts here, and the future is waiting.

Where to discuss further

We recommend joining The Good Company Way meetup, where we discuss weekly topics like this. Join our community of Practice and learn from your peers!

Or Come chat or learn more about 3B-ESG and Scott and Mike.

About the Author

Scott Seivwright is a co-founder of Agile20Reflect and the Being Beyond Better community. He is also a co-founder of 3B ESG, a consultancy that helps large organizations fulfill their ESG commitments and drive prosperity through sustainability strategy outcomes. Scott is dedicated to guiding organizations and individuals through the intricacies of change, empowering people, and pioneering transformative solutions that make a positive and lasting impact on humanity and the planet. With his expertise, Scott enables individuals and businesses to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of today’s world.