The definitive pathway to deep corporate adaptation


How to protect your company from whatever the climate throws your way and emerge standing. Perhaps even leading. Certainly inspiring.

You’re the CEO or senior executive of a successful company. Whether or not you’ve been engaged in sustainability until now to be part of the solution to climate change, you’ve been reading the news lately on how bad it has become and the fact you, anyone really, may no longer be on time to escape devastating consequences in the near term, no matter your company’s size, industry or location.

Even if there may technically still be time to reverse the trend, you’ve reached the logical conclusion, given the dysfunctional politics, the economic momentum, and the daunting physics of climate change, that the window will likely close this new decade and the only smart thing for your company to now do, in fact for everyone to do, is to assume the worst and get ready on time.

So here you are, reading this, looking for a pathway that gets you from here to there in the shortest time and with the best results possible.

At COMMON Future, we’ve been on that same hunt for quite some time, culminating in the last 15 months, when we’ve had the honor of leading a multi-disciplinary team of incomparable collaborators on a journey that has finally taken us to a framework that can get the job done and around which we have built a solution pathway to help you get there from here. Welcome to C-CAM, the COMMON Future Corporate Climate Adaptation Model.

It is an architecture that combines three frameworks in one coherent plan: Four Rs, Five Tasks, and TCFD. Our work with you begins with one of the Rs. That, in turn, leads to two parallel set-up paths: one to set up the Five Tasks, the other to set up TCFD. Combined, they yield your Deep Adaptation Plan, or the actions then executed following the 4R framework.

It is simple. It is powerful. It is the only such model on the planet designed for rapid, enterprise-wide results that prepare your company for whatever comes. Let’s walk briefly through each step. It helps if you open the slideshow here and view it simultaneously.

Reconciliation Upfront

We begin with this step, because the very first challenge you and everyone in the company must meet is to reconcile the latest and most reliable climate science with your firm’s positioning and future expectations. The mismatch you are probably feeling and thinking between the climate reports you’re reading that tell you where the planet is headed, and the management reports that tell you where your company is headed, is aligned here.

We do so with a Reconciliation MBA (short for Maniacal Business Attack, or rethinking, reimagining sessions moderated by COMMON CEO Mark Eckhardt). The unique MBA format, animated by the spirit of social entrepreneurship at the heart of COMMON, helps your leadership team align mentally and emotionally, as well, providing for seamless, faster action from that moment on. This is where you make sure you’re rowing together and in the right direction, because when it comes to preparing an entire company for the coming climate disruption, you simply cannot afford getting either one wrong.

Parallel Set-up 1: Risks & Opportunities

You’re then ready for the two simultaneous set-up paths. This one is TCFD, the world’s leading process framework for corporate climate adaptation. Check out the website here and this recent review I wrote.

TCFD guides you through the four building blocks you must put in place to execute adaptation: governance (board committees, senior leadership, working teams), strategy, management (of risks and opportunities), and disclosure (with the right metrics). TCFD’s experience, as you’ll read in the review, is that most companies are OK with the first three but balk at disclosure, or letting the world and investors know just how vulnerable they are to climate risks.

But you need not disclose publicly at all, or you may choose to disclose just to your inner stakeholders, which in any case you have to, since the risk assessment you’ll conduct will yield the management reports your team will use to execute the plan. If you’re a public company, you’ll learn of nearly 500 financial firms in the ESG investment space with $140 trillion in assets under management that are ready to reward your adaptation efforts if you do disclose publicly, plus consumers ready to give you their loyalty, but know you are in complete control of that choice.

On this front, we collaborate with experts and service providers from the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP), a COMMON colleague organization that provides you with the deepest possible bench from which to select the TCFD team that best fits your firm. Both ASAP and COMMON Future are TCFD members and supporting organizations.

Parallel Set-up 2: the Human Side

While that is going on, take a step that we have found no company doing pretty much anywhere. So we decided to innovate and create the Five Task Framework from scratch to fill this vital need.

As I explain rather thoroughly in this column, no adaptation effort can possibly be complete without an enterprise-wide people- and change-management initiative. This is fundamental. Embracing the full implications of the coming climate disruption, knowing it is so systemic, impending and likely severe, is hard stuff. When you delegate an action to your people downstream across the enterprise, they simply will not respond at the level you need unless they, too, have reconciled truth with expectations and are aligned and, frankly, even excited about defeating the monster and emerging a brand and industry leader in the midst.

The Five Tasks incorporate not just the latest climate science, but also the latest behavior science to overcome the human biases and heuristics standing in the way, by deploying cutting-edge framing, persuasion and solidarity-building strategies. You’ll first paint the right Future Picture for everyone to understand and adjust to what’s coming, followed by four integrated “hubs” to move your people along: Engagement, Culture, Creative and Trigger Events.

Here, we call on our COMMON Rebels, or what we call the communications agencies and org-culture firms and coaches in the team, to work tightly with your own internal and agency folks and get your people ready.

Your 4R Deep Adaptation Plan

Both set-up paths converge in a single, powerful program. We call it a Deep Adaptation Plan, first because it is inspired by the Deep Adaptation Forum and Framework developed by Prof. Jem Bendell of Cumbria University in the UK. And second because it includes the Four Rs of climate adaptation that in our context become the four buckets where you would place every action in your adaptation plan, everything included in the TCFD Strategy, all risk-management measures, the people-management hubs. Everything, for total ease of understanding, communications and execution, as follows:

  • Resilience, mainly fortifying, strengthening and protecting your facilities (with RELi, the latest from the USGBC), data, staff, fleets, brands, investments, and other assets you need for the company to run and grow.
  • Relinquishment, where you lighten the load and become as nimble as can be by divesting units, selling assets, relocating to safer ground, and other such steps.
  • Reinvention, where you take advantage of every possible opportunity created by climate change, mainly the launch of adaptation solutions for customers and the restoration and nature-alignment of your own and others’ operations.
  • Reconciliation. Yes, here it is again, focused now on the people components. Know that as global temperatures continue their now unstoppable climb and progressively worsen climate conditions and extreme-weather events from now and into next century, reconciliation will be needed in every corner of your company, always.

Deep Adaptation has become a global movement. The Deep Adaptation Forum has grown to thousands of members and includes a Business & Finance Group of which I’m a co-admin and which includes dozens of seasoned experts who also stand ready to join the team and bring their skills and adaptation conscience to the table.

Future Ready

We’re looking for leaders who want to step up, CEOs and senior managers cognizant of the climate challenge, knowing we’re likely too late to solve the crisis, and therefore excited about getting their companies ready for this new future we all now have in common.

This is the predominant leadership test of our time, for you, your company, your brands. Become an adaptive company, full of adaptive people and processes, a rock against whatever comes, and you give yourself a chance. Don’t, and the risk of irrelevance or worse becomes unthinkable. And unthinkable should be unacceptable to you. To think this through, today, is the thing to do.

With this post, you now have a pathway, the fastest and most complete available anywhere, with the best expert support. We’re a social-enterprise group. We do this because we care, because we’re all about mission over gain, and ultimately because for the world and every local community in it to adapt, the success of business in the face of climate change is indispensable.

Urban society requires shelf-ready, switch-ready, click-ready products and services if the billions living in cities are to withstand escalating, ever-worse climate impacts and emerge well. Those products and services are provided by you. By business. Everywhere. Rural self-sufficiency, the alternative, is not in the cards with anywhere near the immediacy and scale required for most to adapt on time. So you’re it. You’re the hope.

That’s why we’re doing this. It’s the thinking and passion behind the Corporate Climate Adaptation Model. And it is the reason you should do it, too, and adapt without delay.

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