D - What’s the plan?
After identifying the opportunities and potential solutions in the ‘C’ step, the group prioritises the measures that move the organisation toward sustainability fastest, while optimising flexibility as well as maximising social, ecological and economic returns. This step supports effective, step-by-step implementation and action planning. At this stage, organisations can pick the 'low-hanging fruit' - actions that are fairly easy to implement and offer a rapid return on investment in order to build internal support and excitement for the planning process.
Backcasting is used to continually assess decisions and actions to see whether they are moving the organisation toward the desired outcome identified in ‘A' step (awareness and visioning).
Sustainability principles provide new design parameters that drive product and process innovation throughout the system. This step also incorporates organisational learning and change methods, essential elements to move people into new ways of thinking and working together.
The sustainability principles help people stay on course as they process the myriad of information and decisions involved in long-term planning. What’s considered realistic today never determines the direction of change, only its pace. This approach is based on systems thinking, setting ambitious goals, and developing realistic strategies to achieve them.
Organisations are not expected to achieve long-term goals immediately. They’re encouraged to move systematically by making investments that will provide benefits in the short-term, while also retaining a long-term perspective. They use the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development to map-out a series of steps that will eventually lead to sustainability.