A New Spend Matters Perspective: Redefining Sustainability

There are some words in the English language that evolve their meaning -- often in a narrower fashion -- only to once again to shift definitions again at some point in the future. “Liberal” is one such world. It used to carry the somewhat broad definition as one who favored individual rights and freedoms over strict government oversight of personal and market behaviors. Today, liberal has a more narrow definition, one we often associate with those on the left-side of the political spectrum. There’s obviously nothing wrong with this, but it’s a fascinating evolution of the word. In the procurement and supply chain arena, the phrase “sustainability” is undergoing a similar transformation. Going back a number of years, sustainability simply meant pursuing strategies that would pay returns and reduce risk both today and tomorrow. We also used the phrase to discuss the types of supplier relationships that were anything but transactional in nature.

But during the CSR boom of recent years, certain parties usurped the phrase to mean simply green practices within supply chain. But sustainability is this -- and much more. In a new Spend Matters Perspective, Redefining Sustainability: Saving Money, Reducing Risk and Going Green, we once again expand the definition of sustainability based on what leading companies are doing around advanced cost savings and supply management approaches that deliver results for the long haul (even in today's tough economic climate). These organizations are not only pursuing green approaches to sourcing, product design and supply management -- they’re expanding the definition to include how best to work with and manage their supply base over the long term, pursuing practices that do right by society, shareholders and their customers. This expanded definition is not something you’ll read about in the headlines. After all, if you’re ahead of your competitors, why share what you’re up to? To learn more about this new, more expanded role for sustainability and what top performers are doing to create competitive advantage through it, click on the above link to read an abstract for -- and to register to download -- a new Spend Matters Perspective that is sure to get people talking.

- Jason Busch

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