The world is moving quickly towards a net zero economy. Companies are keen to adopt digital technologies and to play their part in the sustainability revolution. They have recognised that the future is bright as long as it is green.

This transformation change is operating at two levels. Firstly, businesses recognise that decarbonising and tackling climate change are worthy objectives in themselves.

Secondly, increasingly they also see it as being necessary for survival and growth: expectations of customers, stakeholders and ordinary citizens are changing. They now consider sustainability to be of primary importance, and organisations that fail to adapt to this agenda will increasingly be left behind.


Even for companies with the best of intentions, the shift to a green agenda is far from easy.

Mitigating risk and reducing the emissions beyond their immediate control will often require products and services re-designed, and specific behaviours to be addressed. The roadway to transformation is not always clear.

A Glasgow-based company, Stance, is bringing its knowledge and expertise to this process. It helps its clients adapt to disruption by identifying opportunities to transform their products, services and ways of working. They do this by placing human behaviour and sustainability at the centre of transformation.

“For the most, organisations want to reduce their impact on the world and create positive outcomes in terms of both the environment and society as a whole, but often the opportunities to really accelerate their business at the same time are allusive”, explains Neil McKie, Stance’s Founder and CEO.

“We focus on identifying the opportunities amongst the challenges you have around sustainability and the changes that are happening in our society. These challenges can be huge, but they also offer the possibility of new propositions and ways of working.”

“Human behaviour and sustainability are the forces that are disrupting markets. The most successful organisations of the last 5-10 years are those who have been completely customer focused. The successes of the next 5-10 years will be those that are closest to their customer and enable them to be more sustainable at the same time.”


“It’s those opportunities that we help companies to identify.”

“Behaviour is a particularly effective lens to view challenges because it forces you to reframe the problem in simplest terms and go small to uncover the hidden barriers. That’s often where opportunities lie.”

“Ultimately, getting closer to your customers and the people you serve must be the aim of any organisation. The more understanding of how you can help people better do the things they want or need to do, the more likely your customer will want to use your product, service or engage with your organisation.

“That’s why behaviour is the supercharger in the transformation process. It brings an extra degree of certainty about the outcome.”

There is, Neil explains, always a hidden factor - the psychological traits that present in every human being that influence every decision.

HeraldScotland: Neil McKie , CEO & Founder of Stance Photo Credit Christina KernohanNeil McKie , CEO & Founder of Stance Photo Credit Christina Kernohan

By understanding these and integrating them into design practices, invaluable insight can be gathered on whether a specific product, service or change is likely to be adopted.

“Increased certainty is in high demand right now. That’s only going to increase as our society goes through even more transformation in the years to come.”

He gives an example of how human centred transformation can work in relation to the dynamic of business change. “Automation is becoming increasingly common in replacing business processes. It’s often a powerful way of accelerating of change but there can be a human cost.”

“As it is scaled, it will inevitably take away a process that was carried out by another person. Aside from business needs there are some incredibly important social considerations have to be taken into account. There is no transition to net zero economy when it’s not a just transition.”

“Companies that are investing in innovation must understand the long-term social impacts. Sustainability is a lens to identity risk but also a way to find new opportunities.”

“By integrating sustainability at the R&D phase, we can not only spot negative social and environmental impacts but also identify and test new opportunities that place less burden on society and the environment, as well as bring new value.”

Neil says that companies of all sizes should be making efforts to understanding and reporting upon their impact as a base.

“But they also need to look about how they go about their business in an everyday way. That’s going to take new skills and ways of working. Change is realised through action and those actions must be understood and led by everyone in involved.”

What kind of organisations can benefit from Stance’s approach and guidance? The company operates internationally, and its range of clients is broad: from tech start-ups to publicly traded organisations. They are working on challenges like active travel adoption and low-carbon logistics.

“The common thread amongst are clients is their willingness to invest in innovation and their understanding that if they don’t invest now, they risk being disrupted by innovation.”

 “We’re not in the business of convincing people that sustainability is important. I think that’s clear. The key is for them to see that transformation is not a risk to be dealt with, but an opportunity to seek change within their organisations.”

“We are in the business of helping organisations accelerate change. Clients work with us because we show them new things and get to value quickly. They stay with us because we integrate with their team to help them realise their vision.”


Neil sees the future for Stance as a promising one. “I know that we will grow as an organisation because there’s an increasing demand out there. It’s of the moment. It was definitely harder to talk to people about this two years ago. Everyone is much more aligned now.”

He believes that the forthcoming COP26 international climate change conference to be held in Glasgow later this year is focusing minds on the importance of adopting sustainable business practices.

“There is a real focus in this. I think COP26 has lit the fire under a lot of senior teams. We’re getting people asking us to help them imagine what they can bring to the table sooner rather than later. That is the desired effect of COP26.”

Neil says he is “pragmatically optimistic” about society and the planet. “There are a lot of challenges ahead. What we so desperately need is bold leadership. Thankfully we have a lot of that in Scotland, but we need more, and we need it across the board in business. It is with these leaders that we’re helping drive this essential transformation.”

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