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Willard presents seven steps that map the essence of the sustainability change process in any organization. This process serves as a scalable map and may be used in organizations of any size.

Step 1: Wake Up and Decide. Company leaders begin to lose faith in trusting “the system” as it stands. They move past denial, fear, and guilt, and then decide to convert their anger into a proactive commitment to making a difference.

Step 2: Inspire Shared Vision(s). Leaders create a personal vision of the desired future and then repeat the visioning process with an informal network of colleagues who share their sustainability concerns.

Step 3: Assess Current Realities. To capitalize on their energy, leaders must step back from the exciting future vision and look at the current reality in order to assess how large a gap exists between their organization’s current state and the desired future state.

Step 4: Develop Strategies. After assessing the gap between the organization’s current level of sustainability and the desired future state, leaders must identify the high-leverage issues and the people and resources they need to make their vision a reality.

Step 5: Build the Case(s) for Change. Leaders must use internal and external data to craft compelling justifications for change. By building a portfolio of relevant cases for change, company leaders can mitigate risks and quantify opportunities that might be achieved if their vision for a sustainable company is realized.

Step 6: Mobilize Commitment. Commitment is mobilized when cross-functional and cross-hierarchical teams collaborate through steps of the sustainability challenge process. Leaders should coach an inner circle of kindred spirits in Steps 1-5 of the seven-step change process. This inner circle should then repeat this process with their circles of influence, gaining credibility and trust from key decision makers and senior gatekeepers in the process.

Step 7: Embed and Align. The final step embeds sustainability in the mainstream of the company’s measurement and management systems, its recognition and rewards systems, and its decision-making systems. It is vital that leaders stay credible in this step of the process by under-promising and over delivering on the benefits of sustainability initiatives. This will ensure employees’ enthusiastic investment in efforts for sustainability.

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