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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guest Post – CA; Less Bad, enable Good, REALLY Well

I was speaking recently with Steve Boston, Chief Sustainability Officer at CA (formally known as Computer Associates) and he articulated to me a three part model he uses to approach sustainability. It is different but I think complementary to my Four Dimensions of Sustainability and I asked Steve if he would contribute a guest post for CSRPerspective.

We view our strategic framework as three very important and distinct components: “Do Less Bad”, “Enable Good” and “Do REALLY Well”. Each of these components must be viewed (and internalized) from both an environmental stewardship perspective and a business perspective.

“Do Less Bad” refers to the efforts a company must take to manage its carbon footprint (includes reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, etc). From a business perspective, this component is also where the majority of operational cost benefits are contained. On the “Do Less Bad” path, there is an incredibly close relationship to saving money and reducing our impact on the environment. For those companies first starting out with their sustainability programs, this is where they should start. It will prove the environmental and fiduciary value to your Board of Directors (which will enable more investment for “Enable Good”).

“Enable Good” refers to creating the technologies, materials and business processes which will allow for paradigm shifts in the way we all interact with the environment. For example, nuclear power generation is a technology which has changed the way we *think* about producing energy. It *enables* us to choose the type of energy we’re willing to consume. “Enable Good” is the area which will enable us to come closer to *eliminating* waste, bad energy and carbon emissions. This is also the strategy component which grows a company’s revenue opportunities in the sustainability space. This component is really cool, because it potentially changes the world. It’s also an opportunity to increase national competitiveness, create exports and help us with our economic concerns.

“Do REALLY Well” is the strategic component which speaks to how well we do the first two components. The better we do them, the more opportunity we have to talk about them and create a leadership positioning for ourselves. If you “Do Less Bad” and “Enable Good” better than your competition does, you immediately increase your ability to attract revenue and investment. Its great business AND it’s great for the world.

Steve Boston, Chief Sustainability Officer,
CA Office of Sustainability
Member, CA Council for Technical Excellence


  1. I really like this approach. I think it's simple but effective. Thanks for sharing, Steve!

  2. Thanks, Jen. Good observation! What's also key about this approach is that it begins to define Corporate Sustainability from a business perspective. In order for corporations to embrace this, we must help them to identify how Sustainability supports the corporation's Primary Mission to "return long-term value back to shareholders". I think that by positioning sustainability in this way, we end up with higher participation levels, more economic incentives and subsequently more innovation and higher quality solutions than are currently inspired.