As businesses everywhere confront the realities of doing business in the twenty-first century, there is an increasing recognition of the need for shared value—a way of doing business that creates financial success in harmony with societal benefits. Unfortunately as you know no doubt already know, businesses typically live in competition with one another and exist to benefit themselves and their shareholders first and foremost. So how do we rectify these seemingly conflicting ambitions to develop and support large-scale systems of shared values across multiple businesses to create truly large and meaningful impact?
One place to begin looking is at multi-sector coalitions outside of the business world – those that exist in an entirely new framework with all members working in alignment. In fact, one such example already exists. In 2011, John Kania and Mark Kramer, writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, introduced the idea of “collective impact,” which saw mutually beneficial collaborations arise between social sector entities. This collective impact model can be applied to the business sector to organize disparate parties to come together to realize real benefits. For instance, those that do can see their reputation rise as they advance the societies in which they operate, all while capitalizing on opportunities unique to their scale and range of expertise.
Next, we can take a look at The B Team for a great example of a diverse range of business and thought leaders coming together to advance the cause of shared values. “Founded in the belief that the private sector can, and must, redefine both its responsibilities and its own terms of success,” The B Team counts heavyweights like Sir Richard Branson as part of its board and has outlined an ambitious vision that seeks in part to, “leverage the many positives of business – the spirit of enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship,” to create meaningful impact in communities around the world. Aware of the challenges inherent in their mission, The B Team is nonetheless forging ahead with the same spirit of daring any new company needs to prove the doubters wrong, beat the odds and create a better way of better way of doing business.
Organizations like The B Team are part of a larger initiative to create a global network of “Certified B Corporations” that meet strict standards of positive impact, transparency and other socially-conscious metrics across a range of areas, all while creating long-term alignment between their mission and value creation.
And for well-established companies, the time is now to shift and cultivate collaborations that will ensure long-term health for all stakeholders. As Rick Goings, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tupperware Brands Corporation, put it on the druckerforum.org blog:
“Too many of them are trapped, however, in the momentum of their corporate structure. Bosses and boards fear failure and focus on quarterly performance, compliance, and efficiencies. They don’t scan their strategic horizon for the next big shift. When they fail, it’s often because their strategy was looking backward and inward. Ultimately, the company of the future has to be a collaboration tool; a platform or ecosystem underpinned by a set of values and a core business model. Companies have to become the conveners of the Collaboration Economy and help people plug into their business.”
Image via Flickr courtesy of user Sebastiaan ter Burg at https://flic.kr/p/oJyPnM
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