Build a business plan 101: understand drivers of change

EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

Answer key stakeholder questions

Once you’ve adapted your high-level sustainability plan into a language that aligns with your company, you can begin the process of identifying the “drivers of change” that will resonate with your internal stakeholders.

Basically, drivers of change are the answers that each stakeholder would give to these two important questions:

  1. “What business opportunities do I care about?”
  2. “What business risks do I care about?”


Identify and rank drivers of change

Drivers of change can be financial or non-financial. While each company (and each set of stakeholders) is unique, this chart lists some common examples.

TOOL: ID and rank financial drivers of change

Identify what financial drivers are most relevant for your company’s decision-making process. Classify relevance to your company by putting an X in the corresponding cell: High (H), Moderate (M) and Low (L).

Cost SavingsCompanies are always looking to cut costs. There are many low-hanging fruit in several sustainability impacts that you may be able to highlight.
Investor DemandInvestors are increasingly analyzing companies’ sustainability and goals as part of their inclusion in a portfolio. Shareholder resolutions from activist investors are also on the rise. Identifying the current investor demand, as well as how to attract new investors can play a role in your business case.
Profit GrowthCompanies inherently want to increase their bottom line. Cost savings, new revenue generation, and many other effects of sustainability can drive this growth.
New Market OpportunitiesIntroduction of greener products, adoption of new technologies, and other changes based in sustainability may unlock new markets.
Government IncentivesThere may be federal or state incentives available to companies who adopt more sustainable practices. It is important to your business case to understand what relevant incentives are offered.

Download and fill in the chart here

TOOL: ID and rank non-financial drivers of change

Brand ReputationCompanies inherently want to enhance their brand reputation and avoid tarnishing their reputation. This can be a powerful motivator when thinking about the opportunities and risks associated with your sustainability plan.
Competitive AdvantageCompanies are constantly looking for opportunities to gain an edge over competitors. Your sustainability plan may have such opportunities to highlight with your business case.
Industry TrendsThere may be patterns that suggest where the industry is headed. Some of these may lend themselves to your business case.
CEO/Board CommitmentYour company’s leaders may have already made commitments towards sustainability. If so, it is important that you remind other parts of the business of these.
Customer DemandConsumer insights or direct feedback from your customers can give you an idea of what your customer is demanding. This is often an important driver within your company.
Risk MitigationCompanies are inherently risk-averse and seek to reduce their risk to external forces as much as possible. Your sustainability plan will likely reduce risk in several ways, and it is important to highlight this within your business case.
License to OperateDifferent states and countries may have higher standards than your company currently has. If your company wants to enter those markets in the future, your business case should identify this driver.
RegulationsSimilar to License to Operate, there may be government or industry regulations, that your company will likely need to conform to if its wants to continue doing business. Your business case should identify these.
Customer Codes of ConductSome of your current or potential B2B customers may have codes of conduct that your company will likely need to conform to if it wants to do business with them. Your business case should identify these.

  • Well-being
  • Productivity
  • Talent Dev.
  • Retention
Companies with robust sustainability goals routinely report higher-than-average employee well-being, productivity, and retention. The younger workforce, especially millennials, wants to work for a company with an articulated plan for corporate social and environmental responsibility. This has become increasingly important in attracting and keeping top talent.
Community and Social Well-BeingCompanies can only perform if the communities in which they operate—and society at large—are healthy. Sustainability plays a crucial role in achieving this.

Download and fill in the chart here

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