“Getting your organisation sustainable for ‘free’ by making a turnaround in our behaviour, and how to achieve this in 3 essential steps.”

Every organization seems to be committed to be ‘sustainable’, and many efforts are being made to make this happen. At the same time, nobody seems to care about a lot of waste in organizations that isn’t even noticed, or at least not acted upon….

Organizations are proud about their CO2 reductions, their electrical driving plan or their results to produce their own energy. And rightfully so! Some initiatives might be initiated to keep up appearances or for marketing reasons, but the good intentions are still there. Of course, I agree that we need to make a turnaround in our behavior and put the planet in the first place. But at the same time organizations don’t address a type of waste that is everywhere and easy to address.

We are all aware of company politics, poor culture and toxic workplaces where a lot of value goes down the drain. We are all familiar with examples at work that are experienced as ‘funny’; simple things that go wrong but in fact cost money. Many of us smile when they read a Dilbert cartoon, because we recognize similar examples in the organizations we work for.

But in fact, when we do this we laugh about waste. And even corporate leaders don’t seem to take this all too serious. I always worked along the line of creating lasting value for shareholders. In many cases it requires a long-term effort to create value. It’s not pushing people to the limit to deliver quarterly growth of revenues or profit at all costs. By taking this last approach, we accept waste in our organization.


  1. A lot of potential in organizations can be unleashed simply by aligning the Vision & Mission, the Business Strategy and the People Strategy. With this, you also have guidelines about Culture and Leadership in your organization.
  2. Vision & Mission, Business Strategy, People Strategy and functional strategies need to be communicated and understood throughout the organization. Only then people can reflect their decisions and behavior against the objectives of the organization, reducing ineffectiveness.
  3. HR should define a HR strategy that is a translation of the Business and the People strategy, helping other functions to effectively manage the workforce to deliver the required results.

It’s not an easy job. It requires courage, time and effort. But wouldn’t it be great if we could invest the returns it brings in that ‘other’ sustainability?


Gerco Coumou is Associate at RIVIONT. With a vast background in building high performing organizations and HR departments for industry leaders like Unilever, JohnsonDiversey, PaperlinX, British American Tobacco, CEVA Logistics and Scholle IPN. He currently works with Leadership Teams on Leadership Development, Organizational Development, People Strategy and HR Strategies. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Human Resources from Tilburg University.



First Name * Last Name *
Email *

GDPR Agreement *