Critical success factors in sustainable value creation

21 July 2014 Written by 
Published in Integrated thinking

A sustainable society requires appropriate disclosure and accountability of consumption of capital by companies.

Companies, in turn, are expected to create value for their shareholders. The way to ensure that both these conditions can be fulfilled is to adopt sustainable strategies that underpin short-, medium- and long-term value creation.

When a company opts to focus on optimising short-term earnings, the market may not be sufficiently efficient to pick up nuances that the current earnings may not be repeated in the future. By applying current earnings multiples to the equity value, it may over-value and over-pay for the firm.

If the internal reporting system picks up or ought to pick up the valuation gap and nothing is done to address the issue let alone inform the stakeholders, the cost will be borne by the latter when eventually the facts are discovered accompanied by a decline in the enterprise valuation.

Such costs must be contained for a society to be sustainable and thrive. Towards this end, integrated thinking from within should be quickly adopted by as many stakeholders as possible[1].

"The market capitalisation of any company listed … equals its economic value and not its book value. The financial report of a company… is a photograph of a moment in time of its financial position. In buying a share on any stock exchange, the purchaser makes an assessment of the economic value of a company. The assessment considers the value of matters not accounted for, such as future earnings, brand, goodwill, the quality of its board and management, reputation, strategy and other sustainability aspects. The informed investor assesses the quality of the company's risk management and whether it has considered the sustainability issues pertinent to its business.[2]"

Technology is one of the critical success factors for integrated thinking to take root. Integrated thinking in turn is a prerequisite for the proper reporting of financial and nonfinancial metrics to stakeholders, in one integrated framework i.e. integrated reporting[3].

Transparency is pivotal to integrated reporting and is defined as the accessibility of information to stakeholders of institutions, regarding matters that affect their interests[4]. The internet technology is well suited for this task and the good news is that it is not complex to set it up. A well-designed web-site that is user-friendly incorporating social media functionalities e.g. monitors news feeds, tagging, blogs etc. , and other relevant sources of information, will serve to reach out to stakeholders.

Two-way conversations and collaboration can take place that is mutually beneficial to the stakeholders. An ecosystem for sustainability can quickly be installed paving the way for rapid and broad adoption.

Sustainable organization culture is another critical factor. It requires a paradigm shift in beliefs and attitude so that constraints can be resolved to allow for deep behavioural evolution. According to Robert G. Eccles - a company can be committed to as earnest disclosure and transparent reporting as possible without been committed to sustainability[5]. This obliges the nurturing of human capital with the right core values including integrity and competency and it has to start right from the hiring phase. Such a team will have the verve to execute a sustainable strategy.

A network of like-minded stakeholders is more likely to align their interests and work to the common good of the group. The best result will come from everyone in the group doing what's best for himself … and the group[6].

By creating awareness and through education, this pool of early adopters can advocate the positivities in integrated thinking and reach out to other stakeholders for on boarding to the value creation journey. Only then will the journey be of quality.



[1] One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy by Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, Don Tapscott, Chapter 8 “A sustainable society requires a rapid and broad adoption of One Report”


accessed July 2014

[3], accessed July 2014

[4] dated June 2011, accessed July 2014

[5] One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy by Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, Don Tapscott, Chapter 6

[6] John Nash > Quotes

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