Sustainability - A Competitive Advantage Model

There are commonalities to sustainability that apply to every business, and it is a strategy that has proven to be profitable.


“In the last year or two, everything has changed. People are starting to suspect that sustainability is really a strategic issue that will shape the future of our business. The specifics are different depending upon industry and context, but we’re in the beginning of a historic wake-up.” - Peter Senge, senior lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, founding chair, Society for Organizational Learning

Sustainability means different things to different companies. The size of the company and industry will definitely play a role in the definition. However, there are commonalities to sustainability that apply to every business, and it is a strategy that has proven to be profitable. It creates a competitive business advantage and positively affects the environment.  

When the core components of an organization are aligned, it leads to profitability, loyal customers, long-term growth, and systems thinking -- all measurable business outcomes. The model pictured here is a great way to show the importance and business value of alignment. The core three business components are People, Process, and the Environment.


When the components are not aligned and the People area stands alone, companies have a tendency to focus on solving problems, putting out fires, and reacting to challenges as they present themselves. When Processes are not aligned and there is no strategic focus, a departmental mentality starts to bubble to the surface. Variation starts to creep in and each department tends to focus on their own self-interest in lieu of process alignment. When organizations focus on the Environment apart from their strategic direction, they are often focused on compliance and therefore environmental issues are often viewed as an expense. 

However, as the components start to align, you can see how People and Process create innovation, begin to prevent problems, and foster interdepartmental teams who produce results quickly. As Process and Environment begin to intersect, departmental alignment is created. More efficient relationships with the supply chain are generated while creating an environment of systems thinking. As People and Environment come together it creates employee engagement, proactive decision-making, and reinforces that sustainability is part of the organization's culture.  

Are the core components of your business in alignment? If your business in currently out of alignment, how much business might you already be leaving on the table? Can you imagine what business outcomes and rewards you would achieve if your business were consistently operating in alignment? 

To receive your complimentary copy of “Fail-Safe Leadership…straight talk about correcting the leadership challenges in your organization”, complete a request at



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

If you are interested in contributing an article on, please contact our Callahan Media team at or 1-800-446-7453.