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Sustainability, a term echoing through corporate corridors alongside innovation, often becomes a cliché rather than a catalyst for real change. It permeates pantries, office walkways, and meeting rooms, but not everyone grasps the depth required to drive authentic sustainability. The peril lies in corporate leaders, well-intentioned but sometimes misguided, inadvertently implementing practices that do more harm than good — resulting in a detrimental impact on both company reputation and our environment.

While I don’t claim to be a sustainability expert, my journey of using design processes to reshape organizations’ value chains toward sustainability has taught me a crucial lesson: inclusivity is the cornerstone of long-term sustainability.

“But why inclusivity?” you might ask.

In the conventional linear economies, where resources are used and discarded, innovation and a consumerist culture thrived. Yet, this approach fostered disconnection and purposelessness among consumers, not to mention adverse effects on our planet.

Realizing the need for a strong community backing, corporations turned to Service Design and Customer Experience Design, shifting their focus from products to services and systems.

They aimed to identify and address the specific desires and interests of their customers, yet, these initiatives often lacked a genuine purpose for community connection. Business units remained fixated on bottom-line targets, perpetuating the make-use-dispose model and contributing to unnecessary wastage.

This is where designers, like myself, come into play. Clients task us with driving real transformation, utilizing our design skillset to create new, truly sustainable value chains for their businesses.

The crux of long-term sustainability lies in inclusivity — the way we engage stakeholders, partners, and communities. Designers can collaborate with businesses to kickstart their transformation, focusing on the following:

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