Kickstart Your Sustainable Business Journey with IBM Garage

By , Lucy Baunay, and Vincent Thériault | 5 minute read | November 9, 2021

Business is under pressure on all sides

Climate change poses significant risks to supply chains, economies, and business models, and sustainability is fast becoming a strategic C-suite imperative for companies in Canada and around the world. 

As they journey to Net Zero, Canadian businesses are under increasing pressure from investors, governments, and consumers to adapt the way projects are delivered and to create a more sustainable corporate landscape. 

The IBM Garage methodology is helping companies deliver on the promise of becoming a sustainable enterprise. Working collaboratively with business and IT leaders, IBM Garage experts help refine ideas, identify action steps, then deliver initiatives with the right operating models that address both business outcomes and sustainable values – all within weeks.

A sustainable roadmap starts with education

Your company has committed to the long-term vision of building a better future. Now what? 

To be successful, sustainability must be at the forefront of everything the company does – across business units, and the mindset of executives. The entire team must understand what sustainability means and how their ways of working should adapt. Education is key. 

IBM’s sustainability practitioners are educated to integrate sustainable design thinking into the Garage core assets so they can apply sustainable value drivers and best practices into project delivery.

Let me share an example. IBM worked with an IT shared service provider in the fast-changing mail, courier, and logistics industry. The CEO saw technology as a key enabler for the sustainable transformation of their enterprise – but needed help putting sustainability at the core of the company’s strategy and roadmap.

The company leveraged the IBM Garage methodology by hosting Framing Sessions, workshops that allow alignment between highly diverse business unit leaders tied to business, environmental, and social value outcomes. These framing sessions focused on:

  • Aligning the C-suite on what sustainability is, and why they should care, 
  • Brainstorming ideas and action steps that would align to their strategy, then prioritizing them in terms of business impact, feasibility, and sustainable impact. 
  • Defining as a team the business, environmental and social outcomes they wanted to pursue – and most importantly – what to do first.

These sessions helped the C-suite to align their thinking, set the right direction, and to determine next steps. Along the way, they realized important ESG work was already being done – in data security, privacy, and Diversity and Inclusion – and that sustainability offered big business opportunities, along with positive social and environmental impact.

Measuring the impact on profits, people and planet 

To deliver value through sustainability projects, you must be able to measure not only potential profit, but the impact on people and the planet. With sustainable values at their core, each IBM Garage for sustainability engagement incorporates thorough tracking of metrics so the measurable impact remains front and centre to everything we do. 

Let me share another example. A large consumer products client had a problem they’d been tackling for more than 20 years. Their PET plastic bottles were made of 100% recyclable materials, but the number of water plastic water bottles in landfills was not decreasing. How could consumers be incentivized to recycle? 

Looking for an innovative vision, the client was committed to making a positive impact. They leveraged IBM’s Sustainable Design Thinking Toolkit to infuse a sustainable mindset from the very start of the co-creation process. One of the company’s distributors was brought in to increase the impact and scaling potential of the engagement. 

IBM Garage for Sustainability was engaged to:

  • Define the environmental, social, and business impact value drivers that would guide the decision matrix at each step of the project 
  • Get a key supplier involved and end customers’ feedback on iterations along the way throughout the engagement
  • Uncover innovative approaches to solving a long-standing environmental issue in retail

By implementing circularity principles that put products back into the value chain, the company worked on creating an innovative customer experience powered by technology that would: 

  • Increase recycling rates and improve the recycling experience for consumers by helping them become better informed, more engaged, and incentivized to do it right
  • Empower communities through their recycling experience without negatively affecting people that are managing the recycling facilities
  • Create an integrated experience that turns recycling into an entertaining, convenient and educational experience. 

The vision for the company’s new recycling program is to offer tangible rewards in exchange for the recyclables collected; the ability to book curbside pickup of recyclables at the store; and better visibility on the impact of individual actions and education on recycling.

Any stage, any problem: IBM Garage for Sustainability 

The risks are real, the pressure is on – but there are enormous opportunities for companies who commit to building a sustainable enterprise.

Aligning company mindsets with social and environmental outcomes is step one. The other priority is to minimize the project’s impact on the environment and fostering the best social environment possible. Measuring outcomes – business, social and environmental impact – is an integral part of project delivery. 

Slated for release this fall, IBM Garage for Sustainability  will integrate a dashboard that allows team leaders to measure business, environmental, and social impact of projects by tracking things like carbon emissions, the diversity of the team, well-being, and learning. 

IBM Garage can be used when your company is:

  • Just beginning to align business and sustainability goals
  • Already committed to generating business value while minimizing any harm to people and the planet and people
  • Strategically considering modernization of products or systems, or trying to create a platform that will allow your stakeholders to better collaborate and align together
  • building products that are sustainable by design 

No matter what stage you are in, IBM Garage for Sustainability puts environmental, social, and business outcomes at the core of the operating model – and identifies new capabilities, new ways of working, and the education needed to be successful. 

Visit IBM Canada Sustainability 

Lucy Baunay, Senior Consultant, IBM Global Business Services


Vincent Thériault, Associate Partner, Leader IBM  iX Quebec