Written by Astrid von Schmeling, Partner at Purple Ivy AB

Ever heard of the term stationarity? Though rooted in the rules of mathematics and statistics, it can come in very handy when explaining what needs to change in business thinking.

Stationarity is a way of finding solutions for the future by looking back at what was. In strategy terms, you can also call it ‘leaning back’. We can see this principle applied in all too many businesses, when sustainability strategies are based on a more-of-the-same approach, and targets are set a little bit higher than they were before.

But the thing is, our world is changing much too quickly and radically for that kind of approach to work anymore. Past performance can’t predict how we can succeed in the future. We need to adapt strategies by aligning them to what’s happening in the world. We need to lean forward, not back.

Climate change, limits to growth, an interconnected world and shifting demographics are all changing the business game plan. These drivers shape how our society is structured, which is bound to have a huge impact on the dynamics of your market and value chain, as well as on people’s expectations on your business.

Through the impacts of these drivers, we are entering uncharted territory. Corporate sustainability teams have a huge role to play in helping companies succeed in this new business landscape. Scania, Ericsson and Electrolux  are all good examples of companies that are integrating sustainability thinking into their core processes and defining top-level business strategies in the context of their roles in a changing world. Integrating sustainability is helping them carve their place in a new world.

In future blog posts, my Purple Ivy colleagues and I are going to explore how companies can benefit from leaning forward and developing a deeper understanding of their role in changing times. We’re convinced that doing so is the only way to build a flexible, visionary organization can weather the storms ahead and come out stronger on the other side.

We look forward to receiving your feedback!