Stephen Poltorzycki

The Boston Environmental Group

The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), a nonprofit association of leading companies dedicated to fostering environmental, health and safety excellence, developed a strategic planning approach supported by a software tool called SD Planner TM to support companies embarking on the SD journey. The approach enables companies to better understand the context of SD, create internal awareness of the importance of addressing SD, assess SD status, provide a basis for developing an SD strategy, highlight opportunities to create business value, and provide a road-map for taking action. The overall objective of the approach is to help companies integrate SD into their business practices and realize business value from SD. The approach is designed to be highly flexible and customizable to each company's unique situation.

There are a number of specific capabilities that SD Planner TM provides to help companies start on their journey toward SD.

• Establish generic elements of sustainable business practices. The tool synthesizes a broad range of generally accepted SD concepts into seven major elements. This provides a comprehensive basis for companies to select the desired scope and focus of their own SD efforts.

• Enable company assessment of current status. The tool provides a straightforward, structured approach toward assessment of a company's current status relative to broad industry norms. For each element, a company can assess its position relative to a five-stage model of evolution. This will help companies to set context and formulate their SD goals.

• Enable formulation of SD goals and gap analysis. The tool provides a flexible means for establishing company-specific goals with regard to any of the major SD elements. It also enables the identification of gaps between the company's current and desired position, which provides the basis for developing action plans.

• Clarify the potential business value of SD. Depending on the chosen emphasis, the tool will help companies to understand the potential value associated with particular SD initiatives and thence formulate a business case for action. These insights are enriched by examples drawn from the experiences of GEMI member companies.

• Provide guidance and support development of an action plan. For each selected element of SD, the tool assists companies in developing an agenda for action, by recommending appropriate actions that can help to achieve the company's goals. Again, these recommendations draw upon the experiences of GEMI member companies.

The intent of SD Planner TM is to provide these capabilities in a manner that is generic, yet highly customizable to the needs of an individual company. In addition, SD Planner TM strives for clarity and simplicity, so that it is intuitive and easy to use with minimal training. The graphical user interface has been designed accordingly.

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