Integrated strategic planning

Integrating sustainability into a consistent interdivisional strategy

What do we mean by this?

Strategic planning establishes the framework for long-term decision-making in research organisations. The underlying strategic development process entails the interplay of many managerial decisions, factoring in dynamic changes inside and outside the organisation. Integrated strategic planning understands this as a reflexive process involving the interaction of all areas of management and the participation of stakeholders.

For research organisations, strategic planning is very closely linked to the continuous development of the scientific profile, in which there is a high degree of freedom. At the same time, organisations must meet the challenge of ensuring reliable career prospects for young scientists or the work-life balance of a scientific career in a working world characterised by decentralisation, increased third-party funding, and self-determination. Even the employer's buildings and infrastructures must meet ecological, economic, and social requirements while offering a high level of user comfort.

To support the research strategy most effectively, a long-term infrastructure strategy and a human resources strategy must therefore be integral parts of the integrated strategic plan. Examples could be creating sustainable site development concepts and providing the appropriate buildings and infrastructures, or establishing working time models. However, it is not enough to implement individual measures in real estate management or HR management on their own; what is needed, instead, is a connection at the management level that integrates the divisions of human resources and real estate in an overarching strategy.

Establishing "sustainable development" as a guiding principle in integrated strategic planning includes recognising political requirements and choosing a set of objectives for respecting ecological, economic, and social issues. In the process of integrating strategic development across all management areas, there is a good opportunity to actively manage conflicting goals and to define the guiding principles for a long-term alignment under a common understanding of values.

How could a research organisation implement this?

  • Develop an integrated strategy, where all functional areas jointly define goals and measures
  • Identify and actively manage potential conflicts of goals
  • Regularly implement strategic processes with the involvement of relevant functional areas
  • Implement strategic foresight processes for monitoring trends, e.g. in the job market or in laws

Practical examples

Strategic sustainability management at Fraunhofer
Strategic sustainability management is anchored in the structures of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as an interdivisional task to set goals and measures across the Executive Board divisions and in close cooperation with the sustainability network of the Fraunhofer Institutes.

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Institute strategy at Fraunhofer UMSICHT
At the institute level, Fraunhofer UMSICHT has been working on its own sustainability strategy for almost ten years, which has been closely interlinked with the institute strategy since 2014. This includes using new dialogue formats with internal and external stakeholders.

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Fraunhofer UMSICHT was the first Fraunhofer institute to anchor the topic in the organisation by appointing a Department Head for Sustainability and Resource Management.

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The Leibniz Association's Sustainability Management Working Group
In line with the LeNa approach, the topic of sustainability is conceptualised in various committees as an integral part of the strategic development of the Leibniz Association. An important role is played by the Leibniz Association's Sustainability Working Group, in which representatives of all divisions are organised.

©Leibniz-Gemeinschaft/Jan Zappner

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Sustainability reporting

DNK criteria

  • 8 Incentive Schemes
  • 14 Employee Rights

GRI indicators

  • G4-LA4 and processes