Ensuring Sustainability Initiatives Deliver on Public Commitments


Service At-A-Glance

  • A one-year engagement, parsed across four distinct phases, to dramatically improve sustainability projects and initiatives.
  • A best-practices approach to vetting, selecting and managing sustainability programs that deeply satisfy diverse stakeholders.
  • A coaching relationship that helps create clarity and focus for sustainability leaders so they excel in their roles.



This service is a one-year coaching engagement designed to optimize sustainability outcomes through a four-phased approach. Coach Jody Bickel, CEO and Founder of Creekbank Associates, works closely with sustainability leaders to engage in these four phases of activity:

  • Assessment. Current sustainability activities are assessed holistically to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analysis. The holistic assessment is analyzed against the Future-State Outcomes Visioning Statement to ask one simple question—how likely are today’s activities to advance us toward that future?
  • Recommendations. Based on the analysis, sustainability leaders consider alternative recommendations from Coach Bickel that might be even better than current-state activities.
  • Execution. Sustainability leaders build new executable strategic plans, leaning on Coach Bickel’s input and decades of experience in this area. Together, leaders and Coach Bickel track the efficacy of sustainability programs against the Outcomes Visioning Statement.

The precise timing of each of these phases within the overall engagement is customized to fit the needs of the sustainability leader and their organization. This service is best paired with our Sustainability Outcomes Visioning service. In our experience, the root cause of most problems with sustainability initiatives is that they are not grounded in a deep understanding of what aligned stakeholders want sustainability to do for their organization. This is step one.

This four-phased approach significantly improves the likelihood that sustainability leaders achieve meaningful and lasting success. Fruitful activities result in a more resilient organization with an enhanced social license to operate and the accompanying expansion of stakeholder trust. The upshot to the sustainability leader, beyond making big progress toward important goals, is that they are increasingly recognized as influential within and beyond their organization.

The results for the leader and their organization typically include:

  • Clarity on the role and expectations of the sustainability leader.
  • Alignment of current-state activities to the future-state vision and public commitments.
  • An increased sense of continuity between the goals outlined in the visioning statement and today’s sustainability initiatives.
  • Heightened understanding of organizational opportunities, as well as risks and mitigative actions.
  • Confidence to know what to fold, what to hold, what to pivot and what’s just right.
  • Identification of pinch points impeding performance of specific projects and initiatives and what is needed to fix them.

The net result of this engagement is that the sustainability leader is equipped with a fully-vetted, defensible and effective portfolio of projects and initiatives that drive progress. Both the leader and the organization are empowered to move full steam ahead on delivery of their promises and are no longer saddled with ineffective projects or stalled initiatives.

Clients use these results to set the stage for communications strategies, internal team coordination and the coalition development necessary for further progress. Our clients also routinely refresh their vision and plans as science and public sentiment evolve. This gives organizational leaders confidence that the time, talent and treasure they commit to sustainability efforts will produce results they want to see.

Why Is This Service Necessary?

Sustainability leaders enter their roles from diverse backgrounds and experience levels. The scene they inherit varies widely. It may include legacy projects, burgeoning new initiatives, aspirational proposals and a constant melee of unclear expectations. They may also be asked to start doing something, anything, to make things better than yesterday. This is both an opportunity and a danger. Why?

Sustainability leaders have no roadmap to follow and there are plenty of potential wrong turns, hazards and backseat drivers on this journey. The challenge is not just to pick the right initiatives. Leaders must also secure stakeholder buy-in and adequate resources. Through our work across numerous industries and consulting with C-suite, Director, and program level roles, we have identified these common sustainability challenges:

  1. Leaders often face pressure to execute against ESG commitments that may not be well-defined, realistic or aligned with all stakeholder interests.
  2. Leaders often contend with current promises, aspirations, pet projects and in-process activities that dilute their resources without clarity of alignment to stated outcomes.
  3. Many leaders were not formally trained for their role because academic programs in this area are just now emerging. Today’s leaders are often defining their role as they execute it.
  4. There are few role models in the public eye for sustainability leaders to emulate.
  5. New sustainability leaders may not fully understand the political landscape including how decisions get made, stakeholder motivations, internal gatekeepers and industry influencers.
  6. While trying to keep up with rapidly changing sustainability science, technology, and market-driven solutions, leaders may be unaware of a range of better options simply because things are moving so fast.
  7. All of this can lead to uncertainty about how to choose practical and achievable projects, how to secure resources and how to implement them effectively.



Who Needs This Service?

Typically, our clients are sustainability leaders who bear the responsibility to deliver on their organization’s environmental commitments. They are the tip of the spear for enhancing social license to operate. That’s a lot of pressure. These leaders often include:

  • Presidents and C-Suite leaders
  • Partners, Principals and Executive Directors
  • Global, National and Regional Chief Officers
  • Senior Environment and ESG Leads



This service begins with an initial consultation between Coach Jody Bickel and the sustainability leader. The purpose of this session is to frame the timing and benchmarks of each of the four phases in the year-long engagement. After the initial consultation, Coach Bickel creates a customized plan for the following phases.

Phase One – Assessment

Working together, Coach Bickel and the sustainability leader identify and profile all the organization’s open projects and initiatives and assess their status. This includes assessing each initiative for the criteria by which they were selected, how they are progressing, their financial status, the level of stakeholder buy-in, challenges and pain points, team resources and other valuable considerations. This comprehensive, unbiased review of current-state activities lays the groundwork for next steps.

Phase Two – Analysis

Through a series of focused work sessions, Coach Bickel guides the leader in evaluating and scoring all current projects using a Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA). Current-state activities are evaluated against three primary criteria – 1) alignment with desired future-state, 2) alignment with best practices, and 3) a wellness check. This analysis makes it easy to identify what needs to go, what needs to be improved and what’s working well.

Phase Three – Recommendations

Coach Bickel leverages the outputs of the analysis phase to introduce a clear package of recommendations. The sustainability leader and Coach Bickel hold a private session to review recommendations. Together, the sustainability leader and Coach Bickel identify which recommendations make the most sense and how to introduce them to stakeholders. This step is incredibly important if certain pet projects that are deemed to be ineffective are sponsored by influential stakeholders.

Phase Four – Execution

As one who has “been there, done that,” Coach Bickel provides ongoing coaching and guidance as the sustainability leader unveils and advances recommendations across the organization. Depending on the type and scale of each recommendation, some may be quickly considered and enacted, while others may take longer to navigate the decision-making process. As implications from these recommendations roll-out, the leader navigates, with Coach Bickel, the change management process and implementation to achieve the outcomes.



As your trusted advisor, Coach Bickel helps you navigate through the difficult and frequently lonely terrain of charting change for your organization. Beneficial outcomes we often see include: 

  • Clarity on sustainability gaps and goals. Identification of which projects and initiatives make the most sense and where the sustainability program is vulnerable and organizational reputation is at risk.
  • Crisp execution against projects and initiatives that you know align to your mission, stakeholder satisfaction and are fully planned out with allocated resources.
  • Greater support from the stakeholders that you rely on to help you achieve your goals as they see that you have turned chaos into order.
  • Confidence that your decision-making process is defensible and the activities that you will execute against will hit the mark.
  • Leader stress and anxiety go down as their work satisfaction goes up.

Sustainability leaders and their organization progress toward a much brighter future, as a result.

How To Get Started

Our approach for engaging with each client begins with a no-obligation initial consultation and a needs assessment. Based on each client’s situation and the unique nature of this work, we may progress through several framing sessions before formalizing an engagement. This ensures clarity of scoping and a shared understanding of risks, assumptions, variables and the timing of the work.

To get started on this process, please fill out the form below.

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