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Step 4: Identify solutions

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Once the most pressing issues have been assessed you need to identify the options for dealing with them.

Step 4 helps to bring together key risks and opportunities with potential solutions to aid the development of a project plan in Step 5.

When considering solutions, it is important to consider whether a proposed option will impact aspects of your value chain – upstream, downstream or both. Changes to one stage of your value chain may affect other points.

  Action Points

  • Encourage new ideas
    Holistic value chain thinking is often challenging. Have fun with it, explore fresh thoughts and new ways of doing things. Encourage people to raise their ideas, even if these don't fit with current business models and thinking.
  • Assess the possible solutions
    For each of the potential solutions assess:
    • All associated risks and opportunities.
    • If the solution fits with your current business direction and strategy.
    • Whether the solution is financially, technically and operationally feasible. Are there any compliance or other issues that need to be addressed?
    • Which stakeholders need to be made aware of activities even if they are not directly involved?
    • How quickly the solution needs to be implemented.
  • Collaboration and partnership opportunities
    Look for collaboration or partnership opportunities with stakeholders. For example, key suppliers, NGOs, produce users/recyclers.


  • What is your direction?
    Where does your business sit currently and where does it want to be? Are you compliance driven or market driven? Are you an engaged collaborator or are you looking to shape the future? The answer will help you decide which potential solutions fit with your business. Dr Jim Fava mentions this in his interview.
  • Are you looking for quick wins or able to tackle hard issues?
    Do you need to find ways to increase buy-in in the short term or do you have the mandate to address some trickier issues?
  • What are all the possible positive and negative impacts?
    Consider ALL of the potential positive and negative impacts of the proposed solutions (environmental, social and financial).
  • What level of partnership or collaboration is needed?
    Is this with internal parties, external parties or both?
  • Are you addressing the symptom or the cause of the issue?
  • How will you communicate?
    How are you going to engage or communicate with key stakeholders to involve them in finding proposed solutions? Preparing a communications plan at this stage can be useful.

  Tools & Resources