The Challenge and Opportunity

For companies to effectively respond to increasing resource constraints and stakeholder expectations requires both deep foresight knowledge and capacity to change. This knowledge and capacity must reflect four uncomfortable truths:

  1. Sustainability challenges will grow in complexity and diversity;
  2. No company can do it by itself – competitive dynamics require a systemic approach;
  3. There is a big gap in our knowledge about how to move corporations powerfully and effectively towards sustainability;
  4. The source of sustainability lies with fundamental change in organizations’ culture and individuals’ leadership style.

As well as these truths, companies also face short‐term orientation of investors and managers; risk-, diversity – and change‐averse organizational cultures; and unproven “recipes” for success. Moreover, there is insufficient, understanding about which change strategies are most effective and under which conditions. This raises a daunting question: How to bring about profound change, while ensuring both short- and long-term value creation.

Yet, with this unfolding large-scale change challenge comes enormous opportunities for innovation and new levels of success, while maintaining the essential wealth-creation role of business in society. These innovations will produce new products and services through new strategies, structures, cultures, competencies and relationships. GOLDEN is clarifying these elements of the firm for the future, and the pathways for its emergence.

The GOLDEN Response

GOLDEN’s is carrying out interdependent activities. Each has products that are of value in their own right, and each also contributes to the development of the other activities. They arise from an understanding about how to realize large systems change:

  1. The Global Observatory on the Evolution of the Sustainable Enterprise (the “Observatory”):  This is the global data platform of GOLDEN, that holds data from its other activities. This data is also used in the activities, and can be used to answer other questions. The aim is to create an unparalleled data and knowledge platform about sustainability practices.
  2. Three “Future labs” to address the change challenge at the three levels that are required to be effective.  Each begins with an assessment, followed by an experiment or intervention that draws from hypotheses that arise with the assessment, and then draws conclusions about the hypotheses. These occur at three levels, reflecting GOLDEN’s change theory:
    1. Eco-Systems Lab: a series of multi-stakeholder dialogues aimed at the definition of the “enterprise of the future” in the eco-systems of interest
    2. Enterprise Labs: the observation and impact assessment of a firm’s change interventions designed with rigorous experimental methods
    3. Decision Maker Labs: the observation and impact assessment of training interventions for decision-makers in firms, stakeholders and policy-makers.

3. A multi-level simulation model that will use the GOLDEN data to develop forecasts of

the impact of specific strategy and policy choices.

4. A special category are GOLDEN’s Sustainable Enterprise Model Innovation (SEMI)

Labs which focus on introduction of sustainable aspects into the development agenda of

governments or international organizations (e.g. UNEP, ILO, OECD).