Half of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system which is visible from space, has died since 2016. Why?
In short, because of us. Human-caused CO2 emissions are the biggest contributor climate change—many of the decisions we make, from boardrooms to our living rooms, have a profound effect on the planet.
It’s easy to point fingers or place the blame in certain places, but in terms of decision-making within big companies and corporations, there’s a lot more strategy behind-the-scenes than initially meets the eye. The thing is, most companies don’t operate with the climate as a core influencer in decision-making—it’s mostly about the bottom line.
Here’s how that’s changing.
A Bleak Ocean View
In terms of global warming, we’re currently headed down a very rocky path. Besides scorching the record books in terms of hottest years and extreme weather, the health of our oceans is an increasing concern. One of the biggest indicators? The Great Barrier Reef.
Oceans absorb about 30 percent of CO2 emissions—endangering not only marine life itself, but coral in particular. Much like human beings, coral is a functioning animal that needs to eat, breathe, and fight to survive. The hard-shelled organism has a complex, symbiotic relationship with algae—when the algae disappears, so does the coral.
According to National Geographic, bleaching events in the past hit every 27 years—a much longer amount of time compared to today’s every six years. Reefs usually take a decade to recover, and with two bleaching events in a row, it’s fair to assume the once-brilliant “largest living organism on the planet” may never recuperate. With the grim impacts of warming oceans on the horizon, it’s not hard to do the math—human beings need to act, fast.
So, where do we start?
Changing the Business Conversation
Inside multi-level corporations and businesses, the politics of decision-making tend to be based in archaic models.
According to business architect changing the conversation around business decisions to include the environmental costs could be a game-changer, but it’s a deep-reaching issue.
Adding climate into the business conversation requires efforts on multiple levels. First and foremost, the idea would need to introduced on an educational level. The processes of decision-making aren’t a mainstream subject in universities and schools, but many business managers are learning every other aspect of business choice-making during that time. Incorporating decision-making processes into common curriculum and including the climate as key factor would be monumental.
“There’s a consistent lack of education around the subject,” Braun said. “The models we use in business and in our personal lives for decision-making are dated. Most people don’t even use pen and paper and simply take mental shortcuts.” Braun is particularly well-versed in the subject of ocean acidification. He studied the biological and chemical mechanisms that affect the rate of coral calcification, and obtained his master’s degree in marine biogeochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Braun said examples of decision-making in business within big corporations usually boils down to various similar factors like a cost and revenue. The final conclusions have to be collaborative and rational, he said.
While evaluating these basic factors, he said, the idea of climate often gets lost in the mix or floats to the bottom of the totem pole.
“It’s about the fact that many businesses don’t know how to properly evaluate multiple factors,” he said. “Without the framework of multi-criteria decisions, they simply eliminate the lower considerations, which often includes the environment.”
Changing this conversation around the current decision-making in business process in our business schools and culture could drastically flip the script. This may have a huge impact on the future of both our economy and, realistically, the fate of humanity.
Ahead of the Game
Some companies are already two steps ahead.
There’s Normative, a Swedish company that specializes in providing companies with more information about their global footprint in order to optimize their business choices. By providing the decision makers with more data and knowledge about how their actions can make a difference, its vision is to simplify sustainability; mostly by pricing human activities using data science and machine learning.
Normative also helps identify similar information about 3rd party suppliers who aren’t living up to code in terms of caring for the environment. As world governments tighten regulations on CO2 emissions, companies that fail to adopt climate-friendly policies may increasingly be at risk of becoming financially unstable. Investors want to know how companies are approaching this factor; so not only is it beneficial for the planet to integrate these climate policies, it’s beneficial for business.
Corporate responsibility is on the rise. Natural Capital Partners works with companies to offset carbon and find sustainable solutions to their energy needs; it performs audits, sets goals, and works with local communities to asses environmental impact. The company aligns with the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact focusing on carbon, energy, waste, and water worldwide, all in the hopes of prolonging humanity without prolonging impact on the earth.
Silcon Valley giant Tesla is well-known for its efforts regarding renewable energy. As the largest supplier of electric cars on the road, Tesla’s goal is to create a transportation system based in renewables and completely rid of coal. Its calculated strategy of cost/benefit analysis includes its climate impact—evaluating carbon emissions from its factories to on-the-road vehicles.
Of course, there’s also Patagonia, which places climate policy at the center of its company culture and some examples of decision-making in business. The company is actively working towards being carbon-neutral by 2025, and made headlines last year when it donated its $10 million tax refund by donating it to causes fighting global warming.
Many CEOs agree—it’s time to include the environment as a main factor in the decision equation. Ray Dalio, the founder of U.S.-based hedge fund giant Bridgewater, is one of the biggest advocates for ocean health. He’s gained recognition in recent years from sharing his personal perspectives on life and business, as well as dedicating some proceeds from Bridgewater to fighting global warming.
“As a principle, deadly problems that you don’t see or feel, especially those that are communal so that nobody is clearly given the authority and resources to deal with them well, are the ones that will kill you,” Dalio warned on LinkedIn. “By the time the pain is great enough, it’s too late.”
Braun said that all these companies have already implemented a climate approach into their decision-making processes and can serve as an example for other companies.
Examples of Decision-Making in Business
A business is a series of decisions. Every day, your team instantly faces choices to impact the company’s future. We’ll explore some of the businesses’ most crucial decisions before serious action. From strategic planning to operational strategy, read on to understand better how these decisions impact your business.
The Decision Matrix
It is vital to understand decision-making scenarios. Each scenario presents different circumstances and demands on a business’s decision-makers. This section provides examples of five common decision-making scenarios:
1. Making a product launch decision
2. Selecting a new marketing campaign
3. Deciding whether to invest in new technology
4. Determining the optimal workforce size for your company
5. Facing an uncertain future
The PEST Model
However, the PEST model is “political, economic, social, and technological factors.” It helps businesses consider all the factors that could affect their decision and weigh them appropriately. When using the PEST model, businesses should start by understanding their political environment: What laws and regulations are in place? What powers do different governmental bodies have? How stable is the government?
Next, businesses should look at their economic environment: What are the current market conditions? How intense is the competition? What resources does your company have (financial, human, etc.)? How fast can you react to changes in the market?
Then there’s the social environment: How supportive are people of your company (or product) of change? Are there any vocal groups that oppose change (e.g., environmentalists)? Do people trust you or your company to make sound decisions? Is your message understood across different demographics?
Finally, consider technology: What new technologies are available to your competitors? Are they expensive or easy to adopt? Are they secure enough for confidential data or critical processes?
The SWOT Model
The SWOT model will help to analyze your business’s strategy, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. This model can help you make better decisions regarding growing your business.
- Strong brand name recognition
- High levels of customer loyalty
- A history of success
- High levels of competition
- Low levels of innovation
- Innovation could be lost due to a lack of funding or new talent
The 5 Whys Method
The method can help you discover why a particular decision was made, and whether or not it was the best course of action.
1. Why did the decision get made in the first place?
2. What were some of the factors that contributed to that decision?
3. Why did those factors affect the outcome of the decision?
4. If we had known everything initially, would it have affected our decision?
The PEST Analysis
Businesses must make decisions daily. Decisions can range from small, insignificant choices to life-saving decisions. Companies use a process called decision analysis to make the best possible decision.
There are five steps in decision analysis:
(1) identify the problem;
(2) identify the options;
(3) weigh the options;
(4) select an option;
(5) execute the decision.
The foremost step is to recognize the crucial problem. This involves examining the facts and figures surrounding the situation. Businesses need to know what they’re dealing with to make an informed decision.
To involve looking at all possible solutions and sorting them into categories. Businesses should consider every possibility to get resolved smartly. Companies must choose an opportunity to achieve their goals while avoiding negative consequences.
Businesses should choose a chance with a high probability of success and minimal risk involved. Execute the decision by implementing it into reality to take action based on what was desired.
Of course, halting climate change in its tracks is going to take some pretty serious action—action on a scale unprecedented based on what we know of history humanity so far.
Taking the lead is never easy. Are we capable? Based on the climate protests and school walkouts from Generation Z and the “New Green Deal” which made its way through congress this week, the desire is there.
We just have to make some decisions.