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Calling All Businesses: Help Pilot WRI’s SWOT Tool for Corporate Sustainability

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and our corporate partners are using a new twist on an old tool to spark innovations for a green economy—a “SWOT tool” adapted for corporate sustainability.

SWOT analysis is a framework companies have used for almost 50 years to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). In partnership with companies in WRI’s Next Practice Collaborative, we have developed a guide based on this familiar framework to help corporations find, evaluate, and act on new risks and opportunities as environmental challenges shape tomorrow’s markets.

We are excited to invite companies to help road test this new tool. Those who do will help shape the final version, have the opportunity to be featured as a case study, and can connect with other companies to share insights on the big trends they see around the corner.

Show Others Where Sustainability Connects to Core Business Interests

To move beyond today’s best practices, sustainability champions within companies want to show the link between environmental challenges and business value. We spoke with individuals across multiple sectors who told us they are looking for ways to:

  • synthesize information on environmental challenges (like climate change) and draw connections to other big trends (like urbanization);

  • engage colleagues and highlight sustainability priorities in the context of these big trends;

  • develop partnerships to minimize risks or create new business value; and, most importantly,

  • make a compelling case for action to decision makers like CEOs, CFOs, Directors, and business unit managers.

The Tool

Many companies use SWOT analysis to inform strategic decisions, and WRI sees an opportunity to adapt the framework to help individuals engage their colleagues. We have developed a structured methodology to help teams identify new opportunities to act on the environmental challenges creating risks or business growth areas.

WRI created a draft guide to help companies work through the SWOT tool, with nine critical questions to consider. We also developed an online toolkit with suggested resources and several corporate examples illustrating opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses. Companies who are road testing the tool this summer will get early access to these materials.

Testing the Concept

Together with corporate leaders, we are testing the tool to catalyze collaborative action on sustainability. Companies from several sectors will be experimenting with the tool in different ways this summer to guide strategic conversations and to inform key decision makers. The tool will help complement existing strategy processes and catalyze new sustainability initiatives at these companies.

For example, for a large manufacturer looking ahead at rising material or energy costs, the tool can help a team think through alternative business models to avoid future natural resource risks. Or, for a retail or service-based company, the tool can help engage customers or suppliers to understand the types of products they need as they try to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

How to Get Involved

We are inviting companies to help test, refine, and prove this new concept. Participating companies will hold a meeting or a workshop with colleagues to work through the draft guide. The time-frame for this testing is now through September. Participants will be able to compare (non-proprietary) notes with other road testers and be recognized as contributors in the final WRI guide.

Want to get involved? Contact Eliot Metzger (emetzger@wri.org) to learn more about road testing WRI’s sustainability SWOT tool.

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