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NBS Highlights 39 Practices for Fostering Sustainable Innovation

A new report released by the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS), a research group based at the Ivey Business School, describes 39 practices businesses can use to foster innovation. 

Based on a review of more than 127 studies from the last 20 years, this guide for executives outlines ways to reduce costs and drive revenues while improving impacts on people and the environment. It also includes a three-stage framework for business leaders to assess their progress.  

“The majority of the companies we reviewed fell in Stage 1, which emphasizes using technological fixes to reduce harm. Examples of 'techno-fixes' include incremental innovations like waste diversion and energy-efficient lighting,” said Dr. Richard Adams, University of Exeter, UK and lead author of the report. “But the 39 practices in this report can help companies maximize innovation at any stage."

Examples of more radical innovations include replacing your products with services, selling your garbage to other companies, and collaborating with competitors, lobbyists and environmental groups — the same organizations normally seen as antagonists.

“This report shows all companies  large or small, private or public  can take steps to innovate,” said Tima Bansal, Executive Director of NBS, management professor at the Ivey Business School, and the person who commissioned the report. “Companies are always looking to grow, and this research offers insights into the next area of growth.”

In recent related news, Boston nonprofit A Better City released a video describing how companies in its Challenge for Sustainability program use a scorecard and free sustainability toolkit to improve performance. And International logistics company DHL developed multipurpose returnable containers that can significantly reduce the environmental footprint and costs associated with shipping precision equipment. 

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.


Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also an associate editor for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_kingGoogle+

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