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Finding the right ‘green governance’ structure

While more businesses are setting up board level governance structures to drive forward sustainability initiatives, it is becoming clearer that the CIO has a key role to play in connecting strategic objectives with operational practice, and in fostering a ‘bottom-up’ green innovation culture to complement ‘top-down’ sustainability goals. Emerging centres of green leadership are as varied as the energy challenges of the businesses they serve. With more organisations setting up green teams and task-forces, environmental programmes are no longer boxed in to corporate social responsibility or marketing departments. They have sent out new tendrils to other parts of the business. For global firms, there may now be a thriving seedbed of hundreds or even thousands of potential green ideas.This creative input needs to be marshalled and organised to give it shape and make it work, and new applications can then be scaled up quickly, from simple prototypes developed in-house to sophisticated bought-in software. The task might involve using ‘wikis’ and online forums to enable staff in different functional or geographic areas to publish, develop and refine new ideas. Or it could mean deploying and promoting other collaborative technologies, such as WebEx and video conferencing, to support well-defined cross-departmental initiatives.The model also requires a strong, central steering group at board level, with the power to shape budgets, resolve cross-departmental dependencies, and intervene at key decision points to align ‘bottom-up’ initiatives with strategic policy. The CIO needs to be active in both areas: helping the board turn sustainability strategy into realistic road maps and enabling new ideas.

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