Dual-track management for sustainability

Author: Philip Sutton, Director-Strategy, Green Innovations

Version 1.h   11 August 2006



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(Summary: Version 1.b, 17 August 2005)

Dual-track management for sustainability

We all experience the tension between coping with the world we live in now as well as being concerned to make sure that our future world is one we want to live in. This is true for our private life as much as our work life.

Philip Sutton, building on ideas developed by Blanchard and Waghorn, and McArthur and Womack about ten years ago, has develop a method called dual-track management for sustainability.

In a paper, entitled Dual-Track Management for Sustainability, Philip outlines the need for this method and gives detail on how it can be introduced into any organisation.

The idea is that each organisation should have two innovation tracks, an 'improvement track' and a 'transformation track'. The purpose of the improvement track is to take care of issues that affect the near term future or that involve incremental change. The transformation track on the other hand deals with issues that require major, often big leap changes in what a firm does or that require sustained strategic effort over the long term.

Society is facing really major challenges with world oil production being very near its peak and with global warming becoming more and more serious each year and requiring massive industrial transformation over the next 10 years. There are many other environmental and social challenges that also demand fast massive change.

These challenges are the sort of thing that the transformation track is designed to handle.

Philip argues that it is vitally important for the transformation track to be firmly anchored on what needs to be done, by the organisation and by society, to actually achieve sustainability as fast as possible.

Aiming for anything less fails what he calls the double-practicality test. That is, organisations must be practical in terms of both getting things done in the real world (not just going through the motions with not real outcomes) and also in terms of ensuring that what is done is actually equal to the challenges that society, the environment and the organisation faces.

He feels that it is vital that every organisation take on dual-track management so that being committed to transformation is not seen as an unusual stance but is part of normal management and so that more resources can be made available to transformation work across society. He also thinks it is really important that every person takes on both tracks in their own work so that they are not stereotyped as 'improvement track people' or 'transformation track people' - with the risk that collaboration across the track breaks down.

The latest version of the paper is always available on the web at:


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This webpage was last updated on:  10 June 2017
This webpage was created on:  30 July 2005