The challenge

Truly sustainable choices as a company are some of the hardest to make, especially when short term financial gains are far from clear. But what if these choices became easier by working together with your value chain partners? This was the question that sparked a learning journey designed to help one of our clients, MegaGroup – an organization selling wholesale spare parts for water transportation systems, achieve their sustainability commitments.

Earlier in the process, we had worked with MegaGroup to develop their ESG targets through a series of inter-organization sessions. But sustainability discussions still remained separate from daily business decisions, and the ESG targets were easily sliding to the bottom of the priority list (sounds familiar?). MegaGroup’s CEO, Bernard Verburg, saw that the only way forward was to incorporate sustainability into the very core of the company’s business strategy and day-to-day operations. At the same time, MegaGroup was going through a change in governance within the organization and wanted to make sure that the leadership team was both empowered to get into action and aligned in this new governance structure. How could MegaGroup achieve these aims and really bring it close to home?

Our approach

A group of ambitious and committed leaders gathered in the Lohnhalle in Germany’s Ruhr area. The group was initially hesitant about gathering here – as the region works to reinvent itself as a bedrock of sustainability, its former character still lingers in the popular mind. Yet, it is precisely the continuous and open interaction between past and future that makes the region a flourishing site for innovation in sustainability solutions. It is in this surprisingly inspiring and resilient environment that the group, the management team of our client MegaGroup – together with their country directors, suppliers, clients, and category managers – came together to discuss their sustainability ambitions and how to get into action in collaboration through the value-chain.

We worked over three days using 3 levels of change (1) Personal (2) Relational and (3) Systemic. We held open and honest discussions starting with the first cup of coffee in the mornings, talking about sustainability, leadership, and governance. We welcomed new ideas and perspectives from colleagues and suppliers, appreciating the time and opportunity to think beyond business as usual. We paced introspectively inside a gigantic metal drum, contemplating our responsibility towards our teams, our society, and our planet. We enjoyed each other’s relaxed company over dinner, connecting at a human level. The group shared openly and candidly, and came out with powerful insights and a way forward. Individual resistance and doubts gave way to collective enthusiasm and action plans.

Going into the journey, MegaGroup had two seemingly separate aims – one on sustainability and the other about innovating their internal governance structure and organizational processes. After the journey, they realized that in fact, their sustainability ambitions and their organizational processes were interconnected and could support each other.

The result

  • Strengthened collaboration throughout the value-chain, with innovative and concrete ideas that connect commercial power to sustainability ambitions.
  • Leadership in the organization moved from resistance to “let’s get to action!”, and from “me” to “we”.
  • Definition of new governance structure, including a new system of sponsorship and accountability mechanisms.
  • Mapping of several new, practical initiatives to implement in the short and long term. From vision to action.

Bernard Verburg


“Through the process we realized that our sustainability ambitions and organizational processes could support each other. Sustainability is a strategic area where we can experiment with new processes and a governance structure that helps with many parts of our business. Similarly, we realized that fostering new ways of working and collaborating was essential to delivering on our sustainability commitments.”

What’s the bigger impact?

Activated leaders throughout the value-chain, who believe sustainability is a win-win-win scenario and understand how to make it work in the short and long term. Committed to doing the work while also inspiring and supporting others who are not as far along the journey.

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