Shall we play a game: Innovating business models
By Justin Yuen
This is a third installment of a series by Justin. The first, which asked "what do I want to be when I grow up?" was about building a sustainable company. The second, employing the line "collaborate and listen", was on how to engage employees.
As you work toward your sustainability vision and delivering triple-bottom-line results, going through the process is like playing a game. You start at the beginning (by measuring your baseline) and get points for your progress (by making progress toward your goals). How do you pick which game to play? Well, I hope it isn’t Global Thermonuclear War.
The "game" you choose determines the framework for measuring the progress of your triple-bottom-line efforts. It's essentially the business model of your sustainable company. You can start out by defining incremental change in certain parts of your work. B Corporation’s impact assessment is a good starting place. It covers accountability (governance and transparency), employees (benefits, ownership, work environment), consumers (beneficial products or services), community (suppliers, local, diversity, charity/service), environment (facilities, energy usage) and other factors. Also, the Global Reporting Initiative has guidelines that can frame your progress.
Or you could establish a comprehensive approach to the triple bottom line that covers all areas of your operations and is deeply embedded into your mission. Doing that means you run a social enterprise.
In the past, the perception was that you had to be a nonprofit to be mission-based. No longer. The emerging social enterprise movement means that whether you're a nonprofit or for profit, people are starting and running organizations that exist to solve a social and/or environmental need. And with the increasing importance of generating sustained earned income instead of solely relying on foundation grants, the lines have blurred even further between mission-based nonprofits and for profits. Social enterprises are committed to the triple bottom line. New business models include B Corporation, cooperatives, L3Cs, and ESOPs.
Justin Yuen is President of FMYI [for my innovation], a collaboration software company with a sustainability commitment.
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