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5.1 Transformational Change

“Transformational change is corporation-wide and is characterized by radical shifts in business strategy, reorganization of systems and structures, and changes in the distribution of power across the whole organization” (Robinson and Griffiths 2005,

p. 205). If an organization makes a serious commitment to address climate change, this will mean changing their organizational capabilities, culture, structure, and processes (Okereke et al. 2012)—in other words they must engage in transformational change. They must develop new capabilities to assess climate change-related opportunities and risks and to evaluate response options. “The capabilities challenge of climate change is particularly formidable because in addition to the high level of uncertainty, the phenomenon embodies complex technical and multifaceted dimensions ranging from physical science through management to ethics and philosophy” (p. 13). Effective strategy must be formed from often competing voices as internal tensions result from differences in levels of knowledge, risk exposure, and training.

Transformational change can occur in response to specific as well as holistic sustainability initiatives. For example, Delmas and Pekovic (2013) found organizations that sought ISO 14001 certification often also developed new environmental policies, engaged in internal assessment (e.g., benchmarking, accounting procedures), set environmental performance goals, conducted internal and external environmental audits, created cross-functional teams, engaged in more formal and informal communication, and developed employee incentive and training programs. Organizations develop a process of proactive holistic organizational management actions. Blackburn (2007) and Strandberg Consulting (n.d.) provide resources for organizations interested in creating a holistic system.

Transformational Change and the Portland Trail Blazers Justin Zeulner, former Senior Director of Sustainability and Public Affairs, shared a glimpse into how the Trail Blazers began their transformational change process. Initially, their focus was on recycling, but early on Justin's executive management wanted to find out what the Trail Blazers' carbon footprint was and how they compared to other corporations in Portland, as well as nationally. “We had an executive team, and a

president saying, 'This is important to us, we would like to understand how we can minimize our environmental impacts and how to have a positive relationship to our community and environment at the same time'.” The Trail Blazers hired consultants who led a retreat and helped them measure their carbon footprint and assess their existing policies and procedures. Early on at the 2-day retreat, the consultants asked everyone to close their eyes, imagine a sustainable future, and then describe what that [sustainable future] looked like. “Everyone had their own version. But everyone was involved from the very beginning,” Justin explained. Management commissioned a LEED assessment of the Moda Center campus. A consulting organization conducted a Scope 3 analysis. Looking at the analysis of the Trail Blazers' carbon footprint showed they generated 20,000 metric tons of carbon. The Scope 3 analysis also showed 70 % of their transportation-related carbon footprint was generated by people traveling to and from the Trail Blazers' campus. Their consultants assessed existing procedures, processes, and policies. Justin explained, “It was very important to see what kind of policies we had in place. Are we a sustainable organization? Are we environmentally friendly? And if we weren't, then what would that look like?” New policies, programs, and procedures were created and quickly implemented. An internal sustainability team of 35 individuals representing every department and all organizational levels worked together to develop a set of sustainability goals, known as a sustainability charter. Their Sustainability Charter established a vision of the Trail Blazers being the leader of sustainability in the sports and entertainment community. Actions were designed to “minimize all of our impacts [energy, water, waste, transportation, purchasing] and to try to benefit our community so that we are a climate-positive organization. That was the driving vision,” Justin explained.

As of 2013 the Trail Blazers were communicating their measurable successes on their website. For example, in terms of the transportation portion of their carbon footprint, the Trail Blazers' action strategies included subsidizing transit passes for staff, utilizing bikes and electric vehicles for on-site operations, improving the bike infrastructure for employees and fans, installing electric vehicle charging stations, providing reserved VIP parking for electric and hybrid vehicles, participating in the local Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Bike Commute Challenge, working with local transportation officials to encourage the use of public transit, providing funds to support fareless travel within the surrounding Lloyd District Business Improvement District, and supporting the development of the Eastside Portland Streetcar extension. Reflecting back on their progress toward sustainability, Justin said:

To me it's a tremendous example of how to succeed with this. It was not perfect by any means. I would say there were some ways to navigate this a little bit differently that would have been more optimal.. . But I don't know if it is possible. Every organization, whether you are nonprofit, for profit or public sector, everybody has this sort of struggle communicating.

However, to Justin, having the support and encouragement of the team's owner and from top management coupled with the sustainability team's participation in goal and strategy development made for a winning combination.

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