The PI Approach Overview

We are a strategy consulting firm that specialized in integrating sustainability/ESG into strategy and processes. That is why we have developed an integrated approach that respects that not every “hot” topic and not every ambition is suitable for every organization. We provide a thorough assessment of an organizations’ current management approach concerning sustainability/ESG. Relevant gaps are identified and addressed by defining the target state based on the PI Benchmark Assessment and the PI Ambition Level Concept. Deriving appropriate measures and planning their implementation is then aligned with the respective ambition in the PI Strategy Approach. In an ongoing process, the ambition and progress towards it should be reviewed and challenged regularly.

Where do you want to be?

The PI Ambition Level Concept helps you understand your options and define your goals.

Level setting: where are you today?

The PI Analysis Framework helps you identify your current positioning and get a clear picture of fields of action.

How do you get there?

Following the PI Strategy Approach helps you focus on the right measures for your ambition.

Learn more about the approach and related services:

The PI Ambition Level Concept

One size fits nobody!

Typically, frameworks like ESG ratings or reporting frameworks promote a one-size-fits-all approach to integrate sustainability into your business. In our experience, successful sustainability integration requires an ambition-driven concept that fits your business strategy.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will get you nowhere” (H. Kissinger)

Creating positive impacts means creating business value, too. Therefore, we work towards what is reasonable for your business, given

  • Level and dynamics of societal impacts of the markets you operate in
  • Status quo of sustainability integration
  • The positioning of peers, key business partners, B2B customers, and investors
  • Consumer response and preferences
  • Legislative responses and initiatives

Analysis of the status quo, benchmarks, gap assessments, and strategy integration steps and recommendations are guided by the envisioned ambition level.

PI Ambition Level Concept: determine the sustainability ambition that fits your corporate strategy. Levels: Legal Compliance, Stakeholder Compliance, Pragmatic, Strategic, Sustainability Driven

Source: positive impacts (PI) GmbH, based on Zadek (2004) and United Nations Global Compact (2015): Legal Compliance (originally Defensive/ Crisis Management),  Stakeholder Compliance (originally Compliance), Pragmatic (originally Managerial/Resource Optimization),  Strategic (originally Strategic/Market Differentiation), Sustainability driven (originally Civil/Purpose Driven); National and regional regulation may require certain companies to either be more transparent on the management approach or to apply a management approach that goes beyond classical “legal compliance”.

The PI Analysis Framework & Benchmark Assessment

The analysis framework is the heart of our approach. It is based on the PI founder’s sound, 30-year sustainability experience and was carefully developed by the PI team within the first six months of our journey. Renowned experts reviewed and challenged all 46 criteria. More than 20 international ESG frameworks were analyzed to make sure no relevant aspects of sustainability integration were missed. So, we do everything conceivable to ensure you focus on what “makes sense” on your way to truly integrate sustainability into strategy and processes.

In a nutshell, the framework lets us assess the consistency and coherence in the management approach (regarding the desired sustainability ambition). It helps gain a clear understanding of where you stand by going through a range of criteria determining your level of sustainability integration. The assessed dimensions are strategic baseline, operative integration, and reporting. This framework is available for corporations and financial services. Outcomes of the assessment are

  • Status quo analysis: among others, your current level of sustainability integration (actual or perceived), the level of coherence, and the level of transparency
  • Overview of gaps and areas where you do more than necessary with regards to your chosen ambition level
  • Peer benchmarking
PI benchmark analysis

In addition to these analyses, we provide consulting services to help you use the results successfully. For example, understanding your chosen peer sample’s positioning will help you identify possible ambition level(s). The latter will then guide the next steps of your strategy integration approach. Another critical aspect to consider is the complexity of your current business model. We therefore offer you scoping workshops to help you translate this into the right strategic roadmap. Also, based on the assessment, you can receive:

  • A benchmarking of other aspects, such as stakeholder groups, topics, SDG’s, indicators/KPIs, and an evaluation of goals as well as potential memberships and initiatives and activities/measures
  • A clear roadmap for strategy integration
  • Definition and plan for key measures

Benefits of the PI approach

By starting with this thorough assessment, you

  • ensure strong quality in your way to (improved) sustainability integration – instead of doing what sounds good on paper.
  • save time and resources in the long run because you focus on relevant issues – instead of having to do extra turns because you start over for each new hot topic that appears on the horizon.
  • inspire / increase trust and buy-in among your most important stakeholders and thus make sure they understand and support the process – instead of harming your reputation by implementing superficial strategies.

The PI Strategy Approach

The PI Strategy Approach defines all the steps you can ideally follow to integrate sustainability/ESG into strategy and operations and ultimately transform it into purposeful processes. We have designed the approach to fit the targeted ambition level and typically tailor it to build upon your status quo. Depending on your needs, our support can focus on:

  • Level setting: status-quo assessment & planning of which gaps to approach and why (scoping exercise)
  • Determination of ESG impacts: assessment of societal and business risks/opportunities, definition and assessment of indicators, scenarios, possible activities/measures, determining materiality
  • Strategy integration: closing gaps, target-setting, business model/TOM (re-)design
  • Process integration: build and implement oversight, remuneration, internal reporting/controls, monitoring, training & engagement
  • Consistent communication: cover legal and voluntary requirements
PI Strategy Approach

The strategy integration either is or will become an ongoing journey. So, using the  PI Analysis Framework is a good way to assess progress and benchmark yourself with peers on a regular basis.

Our approach is topic-independent to save time and realize efficiencies. It helps you establish processes for the systematic management of sustainability matters integrated with all relevant business activities. Consequently, by applying the approach you will enable your organization to meet any new sustainability challenge or topic consistently.

Benefits for companies and investors


Management of large and mid-size companies in particular


seeking to improve/set up an active ownership approach in particular

The PI approach will provide answers to the central questions of

  • How should we approach sustainability / ESG / the SDGs?
  • What are risks and opportunities of sustainability topics?
  • How do we integrate sustainability into the corporate strategy?
  • What are the requirements, and how do we deal with them?

We help you answer these questions by analyzing where you stand in relation to stakeholders and peers, by matching that to your ambitions and strategy as well as by pointing out the relevant measures to be taken.

The PI Analysis Framework will provide a basis for evaluating the own positioning and for entering discussions with prospects (or current investments):

  • What is their ambition / does it match our own?
  • What should our engagement focus be?
  • How can we track progress and agree on KPI and materiality topics?

We will improve transparency on how consistent your prospects’ sustainability integration is and help you make informed investment and voting decisions.

Services overview

PI sustainability integration consulting services comprise the whole strategy integration process as defined in the PI Strategy Approach. Our focus is on helping you choose an approach and design processes that can be understood and supported by all relevant internal stakeholders. This leads to an optimal starting point for creating more business and societal value.

In a nutshell, we provide:

  • Status-quo and benchmark assessments
  • Gap assessments
  • Scoping workshops
  • Risk & opportunity (impacts) identification
  • Impacts assessments & valuations
  • Materiality analysis / definition
  • Strategy/TOM review and integration
  • Process integration
  • Reporting & equity story strategy

As Martin is an expert in the whole range of sustainability / ESG consulting and has built a network of specialists in any part of sustainability strategy, we can also assist you with:

  • ESG rating response (e.g. S&P CSA/DJSI, CDP, ISS ESG, Sustainalytics, MSCI)
  • Mapping ESG reporting & rating requirements
  • Finding the right consultants in case of larger/international projects or specific topics

We are happy to discuss your individual way towards integrating sustainability into your strategy. Get in touch!

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