“What gets measured gets managed” is a favorite rallying cry in business. And it’s true. Having good data improves performance. But measurement isn’t enough: the things that we measure and set a goal around will get managed even more closely.
And we all have some large challenges to manage.
The world is facing enormous pressures and uncertainties, from climate change to water and resource constraints to concerns about work conditions and equity around the world. And the world’s largest companies, representing a significant portion of the global economy, have an outsized role to play in solving these challenges (or making them worse).
This site, PivotGoals, is an attempt to bring together these two ideas: companies are critical to our collective future, and the goals we set matter enormously. Of course, goals alone are not everything – there are many companies that we found have set few or no specific targets, but are taking real action to reduce their direct impacts, explore their supply chains for risk and opportunity, and drive innovation through environmental thinking.
But PivotGoals is founded on the belief that there is a correlation between setting aggressive targets, reporting on them transparently, and ultimately improving performance. If there weren’t, why do companies set so many financial targets?
And the reporting part certainly has grown rapidly: for example, over 80% of the Global 500 companies now answer questions about their carbon strategies for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). There’s clearly a growing belief that measuring and reporting on performance is good for business – it gives stakeholders (like your employees) information they want and tracking information will drive performance.
The number of goals and targets these mega-organizations set around environmental and social issues is growing quickly as well. In an effort to accelerate the speed of adoption, we have collected the goals, categorized them, and made them easily searchable. A large portion of the database is available free, but in the future we may offer a subscription to the extended data.
A few questions that might come to mind:
Who is this data for and how might they use it?
We envision a few key uses:
- Benchmarking: Corporate managers and executives can compare their goals to others in their sectors and from a wider comparison pool.
- Driving performance: Closely correlated to benchmarking, employees and managers can use the goals they’ve set, along with others their peers have posted, to light a fire under the organization.
- Research: Students and academics studying how companies manage our mega-challenges can utilize the data as input to new research projects/publications on corporate sustainability. We hope some will submit their analyses to the site (see Analyses/Insights page).
- Accountability: NGOs and other stakeholders can use this data to hold companies accountable to what they’ve publicly stated now or in the recent past.
Why is it called “Pivot Goals”?
Andrew Winston, the founder of Winston Eco-Strategies (the organization that built this site), has a new book coming out in early 2014 titled The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, More Open World.
In this book, Winston makes the case that in this new world of extreme pressures, our economy and the companies in it need to operate in new and better ways. The book describes a simple but profound mindset shift – the Big Pivot – that companies must make to profit from the redesign of our economic system that’s now mandatory. The book answers a fundamental question: If this hotter, scarcer, more transparent, and unpredictable world is the new normal, then how must companies act to ensure a prosperous future for all, including themselves?
One of the strategies in The Big Pivot focuses on setting goals based on science, not the way most organizations do today (mostly bottom up with some “stretch” goals). The basic idea is this: we need to set goals that match the scale of our challenges – you can’t climb a mountain half way to get to the other side. The science on climate change, for example, is getting clearer.
A series of recent analyses tell us that we need to cut carbon in our economy by 5% per year if we’re measuring carbon intensity (McKinsey and PwC) or 3% per year on an absolute basis (WWF/CDP). Thus companies need to set goals at this level, which would mean absolute cuts of 20 to 30% by 2020, 50% by 2030, and 80-100% by 2050 (with aggressive intermediate term goals as well).
This site was born of the idea that even if all the world’s largest companies hit their current targets, it’s not enough. As the PivotGoals research team has found out, of the Fortune Global 300, roughly 25 companies (including Nokia, Vodafone, Unilever, Mitsubishi Chemical, UBS, Volkswagen and Coca-Cola) have set carbon reduction goals in line with the science of climate change. A few others, such as Deutsche Bank, P&G, Noble Group and Walmart, have established carbon-neutral or 100% renewable energy goals, but without a specific date.
Besides these longer-term thinkers, our corporate carbon goals are wholly inadequate to the task at hand. So we need bigger goals, or all our other targets will be moot. Will financial goals matter if our carbon goals are not met and we create a much hotter and more unstable planet?
We need a Pivot in how we set these goals and how we operate. The PivotGoals site will, we hope, allow companies to discover where the leaders have set the bar and how far they need to go to get there.
What’s included and not included?
This is not a collection of statements of good works or past achievements. Nor is it capturing all general statements of intent (and there are many in corporate reports). We’ve tried to categorize all goals in five basic buckets:
- Specific & Dated. These are the clearest goals that say something like, “We will cut our energy use across our operations 20% by 2015.”
- Specific & Undated. A clear statement, but without an end goal: “We want to be supplied by 100% renewable energy.”
- Intentional. These are very hard to capture clearly, but very vague statements like “we want to be more environmental friendly” are generally not included. Some statements that are slightly more specific like, “we will reduce air emissions” are often included. It’s a fine line.
- Achieved. While we are mostly not capturing past accomplishments, the data is constantly shifting. Since we began the collection process, many companies produced new reports and said specifically that they achieved a previously stated target. We will keep many of these in the database as they transform from intentions to reality.
- Expired. Some prior goals are perhaps not mentioned again. We will move those into the “expired” category without doing in-depth research to find out if they were achieved or not.
For a list of the companies included in the database, and the ones we searched but found no goals for, please download the excel sheet here
Can I add my company’s goals to the database?
Yes and no. We’d like to stick with mostly the larger companies, but over time, we’ll be adding more of the smaller and midsize sustainability leaders (such as Patagonia or Interface) for benchmarking purposes. We’d very much like the latest goals or clarifications from large companies, however. We’ll soon provide a template for filling in goals which you can send to us.
How has the data been collected?
Carefully and somewhat painfully. Our research team has been looking through corporate sustainability reports, annual financial reports (for those “integrated” CSR reports), and corporate websites. We’ve pulled statements of intent from these documents and then carefully categorized them by issue (climate, water, waste, philanthropy, human rights, and so on), value chain focus (supply chain, operations, product use, end of life), type of goal (specific, intentional) and other dimensions.
The PivotGoals research team is drawn from graduate students from programs such as the Columbia Masters in Sustainability and Vanderbilt’s MBA program. Jeff Gowdy, a sustainability consultant and lecturer at Vanderbilt has been integral to managing the project, and Andrew Winston reviews all goals entering the database before finalizing them (so far). Thanks to researchers: From Columbia University Master of Science (or M.S.) in Sustainability Management, Nicolas Gordon, Ryan Meinke, Erin Mulberg, Katie Jones, Bobby Sciortino, and Andrea Moore; from Vanderbilt’s MBA program, Luke Wilkinson, Sara Pape, and John Jacobi.