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Sustainability tools demystified: MIT Sloan launches SHIFT

There are a seemingly endless number of sustainability challenges to solve, and an equal number of tools with which to address them. If you're a sustainability practitioner, you might feel overwhelmed with number of resources available. Consultants, academics, and companies all create tools and guides to help practitioners--each with a slightly different approach. How do you whittle down the hundreds of carbon footprint tools available, for example, to find the best tools for your purposes?

While having a lot of tools is typically a good thing, wading through this glut of resources can slow companies down in the journey toward sustainability--and even prevent them from implementing sustainability measures altogether.

Enter SHIFT (short for Sustainability Help, Information, Frameworks, and Tools), an online aggregator that helps its users find, compare, and choose the correct sustainability tools for research and business purposes. A cross-sector collaboration led by the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan and Valutus, the mission of SHIFT is to make it easier for leaders at all stages of development to "hardwire" sustainability into their organizations. SHIFT is both a platform of resources and a community of practitioners working together to curate and review tools based on their own experiences. The platform also includes curricula that combines resources into a sequence that supports individual and organizational learning.

"There are a lot of resources out there that can be helpful for sustainability practitioners and they don’t always know they exist," said Jason Jay, Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan and an MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer. "Often we’ll find people are reinventing the wheel. So, finding what's out there is important. What this all adds up to is a shift in management practice, so we like that acronym," Jay adds.

Companies will not have to pay to use SHIFT initially. The revenue model is based on sponsorship of the platform (which Biogen has donated to) and sponsored curation. The goal is to keep much of the content free. Other SHIFT collaborators include CSRHub, the MIT Press, and MIT Sloan Management Review.

A preliminary version of the platform is live for alpha testing. The Initiative is actively seeking user feedback.

Jason Jay teaches in the MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Strategies for Sustainable Business, offered March 22-24 and October 18-20, 2017.

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