How to create not only profitable, but also sustainability-oriented business models? How to improve the sustainability performance of an existing business?
The Sustainability Innovation Pack consists of two card sets, as part of the Business Innovation Kit, to inspire new ways to realise the sustainability-orientation of organisations. First, users reflect on their current innovation maturity and define the level they are aiming for by considering five levels of sustainability innovation maturity. Second, they work through eight business case drivers to integrate ecological, social and/or economic sustainability issues into their business models and their components.
Sustainability Innovation Maturity
Which is your level of sustainability innovation maturity and what is your target level? Having agreed upon a shared normative vision in the BIK’s initial “grounding exercise”, which clarifies an organisation’s business model-related vision and mission, users reflect on their current level of sustainability innovation maturity and their future target level.
The card set describes five sustainability innovation maturity levels, including brief definitions of each level, characteristics in terms of innovation motivation and focus, and integration into an organisation’s overall innovation management. Examples and illustrations are given.
The levels ascend from incremental innovations with a rather narrow scope (e.g. changes in existing products or services) to radical and more encompassing approaches (e.g. developing new business ecosystems within wider value networks to solve complex sustainability challenges like local energy transitions). The five levels are:
1. Innovation within components
2. Innovation throughout components
3. Sustainable innovation process
4. Business model innovation
5. Value network innovation
Business Case Drivers
How do you create your business case for sustainability through business model innovation? This exercise adds a corporate sustainability perspective to the facilitation process. Having agreed upon a shared normative vision for an innovation project and the target level of sustainability innovation maturity, ideas are developed for each business model component.
This set of eight business case driver cards proposes different levers to improve a business model’s sustainability performance in concert with, for example, costs, risks, reputation, and/or network creation. For instance, through offering cost efficient contracting models based on the idea of using and sharing technical equipment, instead of simply selling product units. The tool helps teams to align business models with the most essential business case drivers. It provides anchors and selection criteria for both the modeling phase and the final discussion on how to survive in challenging business environments and scenarios. Here are some instructions how to work with the cards.
The Sustainability Innovation Pack was developed together with Florian Lüdeke-Freund of the University of Hamburg, who also wrote a blog entry about the pack.
Breuer, H. & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2014). Normative Innovation for Sustainable Business Models in Value Networks, in: Huizingh, K.; Conn, S.; Torkkeli, M. & Bitran, I. (Eds.): The Proceedings of XXV ISPIM Conference – Innovation for Sustainable Economy and Society, 8-11 June 2014, Dublin, Ireland. Presentation available on Slideshare.
Breuer, H. (2013). Lean Venturing: Learning to Create New Business Through Exploration, Elaboration, Evaluation, Experimentation, and Evolution, Int. Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 17, No. 3, Article 1340013.
Schaltegger, S.; Lüdeke-Freund, F. & Hansen, E. (2012). Business Cases for Sustainability: The Role of Business Model Innovation for Corporate Sustainability, Int. Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 95-119.