Mini-MBA™: Sustainability-Aligned Leadership and Strategy - Curriculum

What are Sustainability, CSR, and current global context?

This module sets the tone for the five-day program by engaging participants in a conversation to frame the intertwining of sustainability and CSR in the context of global operating conditions. Reinforcing the critical need for an integrated and holistic approach, it will inspire and motivate participants from every function to see how they can make a contribution to the triple-bottom-line (People – Planet– Profit) that is so essential to creating long-term value and prosperity. Foundational topics help participants understand resource constraints, carrying capacity, and ecological impacts (personal and global footprint) from a business perspective to reduce exposure to risks and open new avenues for generating revenue and growth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Understanding triple bottom line, resource constraints and carrying capacity, and the broad picture of sustainability and CSR, and their relevance to business opportunities (decoupling of economic growth from resource exploitation; sustainable consumption)
  • Skill(s): systems thinking, to explore and assess the most significant global risks to business and their interconnections and impact on business sustainability
  • Tools: learn to use global sustainability assessment tools including the Ecological Footprint to understand individual and global footprints


Taking a Systems Approach to Strategy

This module opens participants’ mindsets to include new mental models and ways of thinking about the business of sustainability based on cutting edge research and practice. Participants learn about new business models such as: how the circular economy converts waste to wealth; exciting cases from the sharing economy; and successful examples of doing business for good in the purpose economy. Participants discover attitudes, practices, and technologies that significantly advance sustainability goals, such as Big Data, and learn about science-based strategies to drive “strong” sustainability goals and outcomes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Learn about emerging new business models and innovations that disrupt industries and advance sustainability, such as the circular and sharing economy.
  • Skills: systems thinking applied to understanding the planet, society and the economy as interdependent nested systems
  • Tool(s): (1) Mental models assessment tool(s). (2) Identify and assess sustainability opportunities and risks using a SWOT strategic review


Personal Leadership

Leaders who demonstrate emotional intelligence and social consciousness develop more effective working relationships.  Leadership founded on ethical principles that reflect triple-bottom-line realities engage and inspire people around them to contribute their best efforts. In this session leaders will gain insights through self and team assessments into their own people management skills, emotional intelligence, for enhancing employee engagement and commitment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Learn about mental models, beliefs, habits, bias, and ethical leadership.
  • Skill(s): Mindfulness practices, employee engagement habits and practices.
  • Experiential Learning: Become more self-aware and emotionally intelligent using mindfulness exercises; learn how to observe and build authentic and trusting relationships with other people.


Effective Teamwork, Collaboration, and Transformational Change

New business models are transforming the way work gets done. While increased collaboration enables business leaders and managers to address complex issues more effectively, business success demands that leaders find a dynamic balance where cooperation and competition each have a place. Focused sustainability and CSR initiatives can be incubators for these new kinds of transformative teamwork.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Balancing collaboration, competition, and co-opetition in a sustainable world; Distinguishing between distributive and integrative negotiation
  • Skill(s): Practice creating integrative (win-win) negotiations to further sustainability outcomes. Driving teamwork through CSR initiatives.
  • Tool(s): Decision-making balance sheet; Self-assessment to note participants’ primary and backup conflict-handling-styles, and their effectiveness in different situations. Stakeholder Network mapping.


Financial Literacy/Green Accounting

This module focuses on relating responsibility, risk evaluation, business opportunities, and accountability in a triple bottom-line context. Participants are introduced to Profitability Modeling, which will be adapted and customized for each participant’s company throughout the course. It will provide valid benchmark data based on companies that have already successfully implemented sustainability initiatives and reaped the financial benefits. Participant companies will use the model to make their own estimates regarding potential risks, cash flow, or profitability impact measures for these four areas of sustainability opportunities: eco-efficiency, employee productivity; innovation & revenue growth; and risk reduction. Additionally, participants learn to work effectively in a multi-stakeholder environment that includes employees, customers, suppliers and investors, to create shared value from a people, profit, and planet perspective. Participants adopt a CEO perspective, including economic, environmental, and societal value creation, to develop a Triple Bottom Line strategy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Financial Literacy/Green Accounting, cost accounting and ROI.
  • Skill(s): Building a business case and accounting for sustainability; balance sheet and income statement basics; assessing materiality.
  • Tool(s): Application of our unique Profitability Model to each participant’s company, using a proven simulator tool, estimates three-to-five year bottom-line benefits from sustainability-aligned strategies


Performance Measurement and Reporting

Sustainability-related accounting and reporting frameworks (e.g., GRI, SASB) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) are challenging traditional accounting and financial reporting practices. This module helps participants understand the current state-of-the-art related to performance measurement and integrated reporting. Participants learn about and explore the impact of financial and nonfinancial metrics, strong sustainability and science based goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge:
    • Integrated Reporting
    • Financial Metrics; Nonfinancial Metrics
  • Skill(s): Selecting and evaluating appropriate metrics.
  • Tool(s): GRI, Compass Platform, Beginners Guide for Implementing Sustainability Metrics; Frameworks for Strong sustainability and science based goals


Global Systems Integration, Risks, and Opportunities

New market business opportunities presented by the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are estimated to be over $12 trillion. Learn how companies are growing their corporate value by aligning their business with SDGs and industry sustainability initiatives to create business for a better world. Related topics include the latest information and trends from the 2017 World Economic Forum and the 8000+ companies participating in the UN Global Compact.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: How to identify and assess sustainability risks and opportunities, with examples from the World Economic Forum, UN Global Compact, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Skill(s): Systems Thinking for Sustainability: Participants adopt a CEO perspective, including economic, environmental, and societal value creation, to develop a Triple Bottom Line strategy.
  • Tool(s): Sustainable Development Goals matrix


Trans-disciplinary and Trans-organizational Thinking

Building on our understanding of global system risks and opportunities, this module helps participants develop new ways of thinking that are trans-disciplinary and even trans-organizational. The program drills down into how sustainability affects and is affected by various functional perspectives such as supply chain, sales & marketing, product development, manufacturing & operations, finance, and human resources. Participants will learn basics of conducting a life cycle analysis, and explore value chains in the context of sustainability.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Understand Trans-disciplinary and Trans organizational thinking from a functional and value chain perspective. Learn about Sustainable Supply Chains.
  • Skill(s): Learn how to guide and manage change processes to further Sustainability.
  • Tools: Life Cycle analysis


Debrief GlobStrat, Team Learnings

This module begins with a debrief of participants GlobStrat experience over the course of the four days. Each team works together to distill key learnings and present to the class. This includes how well the team worked together, how they developed their strategies and made their decisions, and what lessons learned they are taking away from the experience relative to sustainability-aligned leadership and strategy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Understand why the coherent implementation of a sustainable strategy is of utmost importance.
  • Skills/Experiential Learning: Analyze the pertinence (given competitors’ choices) and coherence of team strategies; assess what decisions were appropriate and which ones didn’t work or were made at the wrong time; analyze teams successes and failures, and the possible causes; evaluate your team’s ability to work together and to motivate other team members to collaborate in ethical and responsible ways.
  • Tools: Action Planner: Create a strategy and a plan for transforming your learnings into participants’ organizations.


Individual Capstone Plan Presentations

Throughout the course, participants capture their learning and applications to their companies in an “Action Planner.” In the final module, students work individually to synthesize their learning into a Capstone Project Presentation. This involves: creating a high-level outline of their respective company’s business sustainability plan and roadmap; selecting critical performance measures to assess success of different opportunities; screening, evaluating, and prioritizing major opportunities through a high level materiality assessment; assessing and documenting financial and nonfinancial risks; creating an implementation and integrated tactical plan for stakeholders and employee engagement; and developing and practicing presenting next-step recommendations and action plans.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Knowledge: Sustainable and strategic business leadership: adopting a comprehensive, 360° view of a business from a long- plus short-term, strategic and sustainable perspective
  • Skills: Engaging and Aligning Employees and Other Stakeholders for Sustainability: Participants learn practical ways to unleash the creativity of their employees and other stakeholders in every function in service of building a sustainable enterprise.
  • Tool(s): Action Planner