Keeping Score

Peter Drucker believed that any time an organization assesses its performance in a given area, it sends a powerful message.

The mere act of measuring something is “neither objective nor neutral,” Drucker wrote. For “no matter how ‘scientific’ we are,” he added, “the fact that this or that set of phenomena is singled out for being controlled signals that it is…considered to be important.” In this way, Drucker concluded, controls in any company are both “goal-setting and value-setting.”

It is with this in mind that the Global Reporting Initiative, a group that promotes the measuring and disclosure of information on environmental impact, is pushing for companies and governmental organizations to adopt a robust assessment framework.

“The transition to a resource-efficient, sustainable economy requires fundamental changes in how business is conducted in both the private and public sectors—how strategies are set, investments targeted and priorities for action are defined,” Ernst Ligteringen, chief executive of GRI, said last week before a meeting of the United Nations Environment Programme. “We need to manage this change. By mainstreaming sustainability reporting in the private sector, we can identify the areas of performance that need to be improved in order to protect our planet and our future.”

[EXPAND More]As of now, the reporting gap is huge. GRI noted that databases currently list about 4,500 sustainability reports produced by companies worldwide. But that’s a small fraction of the estimated 82,000 multinational enterprises around the globe.

Drucker, for his part, was a fan of a “balanced scorecard” approach in which companies measure not only their financial results but their performance in other areas, such as environmental stewardship. “The importance of a balanced scorecard is not the individual items,” Drucker said. “The importance is that it forces you in management to look at the institution from different angles.”

What does your organization’s sustainability scorecard look like?[/EXPAND]






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