Sustainable Business Transformation

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Posts Tagged ‘Business Transformation’

HPA Perspective on Sustainability: FAQs – 5

Posted by Hemant Puthli on May 10, 2010

This is the fifth in a series of 6 posts on our perspective on sustainability. Our first post focused on our definition of sustainability and the second explained what we mean by ’social relevance’, ‘environmental responsiveness’ and ‘economic viability’. The third dealt with the notion of ‘Common Good’ in contrast to ‘Self-Interest’, and why the pursuit of the Common Good leads to better sustainability. The fourth post discussed the challenges along the path to sustainability in a competitive situation and also elaborates upon the key areas of difference between partnerships and competitive relationships.

This post looks at the sustainability theme from an investor’s perspective and explores how it plays out for the shareholders of an enterprise that embarks on a sustainable business transformation journey.

Shareholders are interested in two things, generally speaking: earnings or dividend per share, and appreciation of the share price in the stock market. How can corporations meet shareholder demands if they pursue Sustainable Business Transformation the way you define it? Why would shareholders invest in or care about social relevance or environmental responsiveness?

Let me ask you this – as a shareholder, which of these two alternative scenarios would you prefer: (a) get higher returns in the short-term but remain uncertain about future returns, or (b) get moderate returns in the short-term but be confident that such returns will continue to accrue over a longer duration? Which scenario represents more value to you? Clearly, a majority of the population would prefer the latter. (Note that this excludes short-term speculators, who are an exception to the rule since they have different financial goals and risk appetites.)

Sustainability Tilts The Balance

The mandate to business therefore is to focus more on the promise of sustainability of profit in the long run, rather than on maximizing gains in the short run at the risk of uncertainty about the future. (Unfortunately, the practice of quarterly reporting of results tends to encourage focus on the short-term in terms of the company’s approach to performance as well as investor outlook.) The challenge to businesses on a Sustainable Business Transformation journey is to move their investors from scenario (a) to scenario (b). It is imperative that businesses educate their shareholders and inspire confidence in them, to believe that they will sustain a certain level of returns in the long run. A lot depends on the quantum of shareholder trust earned and enjoyed by the business. Businesses that haven’t worked on generating the kind of credibility which is a pre-requisite for that kind of trust may not be successful in building investor confidence along these lines.

The problem today is that the number of players with short-term interests is rapidly increasing, to become a considerable force in the financial markets. This is happening because of the combination of two factors: perceptions of scarcity and uncertainty about the future on the one hand and temptations to make a quick buck in markets that have become too complex to regulate effectively on the other. And this in turn is leading to the devolution of the principle of common good into its primitive version of instinctive self-interest. Such trends erode (as opposed to support) sustainability and must be arrested and reversed. It’s like traffic rules: what might happen if more people break rules just because a few guys broke them and got ahead.

This is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Sustainable Business Transformation journey and can only be addressed by increasing awareness and educating investors relentlessly. We are not saying it is easy — on the contrary, it is an uphill task, but we have to start somewhere, otherwise the logical extension and spread of such trends will result in anarchy. Hopefully some of the regulatory reform in the wake of the global financial crisis will plug gaps that could be exploited to make a quick buck and discourage reckless opportunism, at least to an extent.

There are already several organizations that focus on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). Their purpose is to educate, encourage and enable investors to develop investment strategies aimed at the more holistic view of sustainability. Similarly there are other trends that are gaining momentum of late: social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, which essentially deal with the application of the principles and disciplines of enterprise and entrepreneurship to socially and/ or environmentally focused work. Historically, this has usually been the domain of non-profit charities funded out of philanthropic or ethical considerations. The new social entrepreneurship movement is changing that paradigm, by proving that social/ environmental projects can run just like any other business, except that its customers (and possibly also its core stakeholders) belong to different types of communities compared to traditional businesses.

This brings us to a very interesting observation: as traditional profit-oriented businesses become more socially and environmentally focused (either due to SRI or other pressures or arising out of their own realization), social development organizations will become more like regular businesses, with a sharp focus on efficiency and returns. These worlds will soon start resembling each other so much that they will finally merge into a single approach to all business, focused on the triple bottom line.

Our next and final post in this series will deal with the urgency of the need for businesses to embrace sustainability.

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Posted in Economics, Strategy | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

HPA Talk: CleanTech Mentoring Workshop

Posted by Hemant Puthli on March 19, 2010

[Text of a talk delivered at the ‘CleanTech Mentoring Workshop‘ on March 19, 2010 aimed at introducing HPA and outlining the scope and nature of our advisory services]

Good afternoon!

First, let me thank TiE Mumbai, CII and New Ventures India for hosting this event and for inviting me to talk about who we are and what we do. I shall endeavour to keep this simple and brief, along the lines of an “elevator pitch” as it were, since the time allocated is quite short.

Think of HPA as a network of independent experts — high-content, seasoned industry professionals — brought together by a shared vision and held together by bonds of trust. Trust in each other’s capabilities as well as value systems. Since our associates are based in different geographies across the world, and also travel a lot, we use technology and communications tools to collaborate on projects and work as a virtual team. Quite often, we refer to HPA as an experiment in cooperative consulting, since each of us has their own independent practice as well, but we come together on a common platform to serve clients that need specific competencies that our associates bring. Each of us has had prior work experience of anywhere up to 25 years with some of the biggest global brands in our respective industries. So that’s a one-minute overview of who we are.

Regarding what we do. Simply put, we help businesses perform better through more effective use of technology, and we help technology providers perform better by strengthening their business management capability. Our work centers around the meeting ground of business and technology and we approach this intersection from both sides, assisting buyers as well as sellers through advisory services focused around Strategy and Governance. We weave our advisory services around the theme of sustainability, which we characterize by 3 criteria: social relevance, environmental responsiveness and economic viability. This is conceptually very similar to the “triple-bottom-line” approach or the “3P” model which I’m sure most of you may be familiar with. In this way we distinguish ourselves from traditional management consultants and business advisors with their legacy frameworks and methodologies.

In our experience, we have observed that each technology start-up is born out of a unique combination of two great strengths — technology innovation capability and the spirit of entrepreneurship. However, there is a third ingredient that goes into the secret sauce which makes a start-up successful. It involves depth of management capability and in many cases this is not always abundantly present within the start-up core team.

Let’s be clear about this: things like vision, strategy and risk appetite cannot be outsourced. The start-up already has some kind of a vision and some kind of strategy in mind, and has already placed its bets on its execution capability, else it would not exist. But what start-ups do require is help in the articulation and independent validation and verification of the entrepreneurial vision and strategy. And from that point on, they need help in aligning the various delivery vehicles that will translate ideas into action. That is where we come in — we help social entrepreneurs, including cleantech companies like yours, by offering the depth of our collective mix of management expertise and experience that you can draw on, to do the following things: shape your strategy and develop your business plans, build and enhance your execution capability and help in governing your operations. As a bonus we also sometimes throw in the ability to leverage our collective Rolodex of contacts, where possible.

In a nut-shell, that is what we do, and I would be delighted to meet the cleantech entrepreneurs over lunch, answer questions and explore mutually rewarding opportunities.

Thank you!

Posted in Governance, Strategy, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Does Your Start-up Need to Grow Up?

Posted by Hemant Puthli on January 21, 2010

Over the last decade or so, the heady blend of technological innovativeness and entrepreneurial drive has resulted in a widespread burgeoning of technology-centric start-ups. This was mostly fueled by quantum leaps in the price/performance of technology products in a climate of de-regulation and liberalization, especially in the telecom industry. At the turn of the century, the spike in Y2K business and the concurrent boom in dot-com opportunism were the most highly visible phenomena that marked this trend. Soon after, the predictable post-Y2K void and the inevitable dot-com bust saw a lot of bankruptcies and sell-outs, and, as one might have expected, very few new launches. A few years since then, however, Web 2.0 — the second wave of web technologies coupled with mobile computing and other trends that have collectively been dubbed ‘social media’ — has brought a groundswell of economic activity around technology-centric start-ups. This has been further spurred on by the success of Facebook and Twitter, which have emerged as role models that many Web 2.0 / social media start-ups emulate. Simultaneously, in the post-Y2K world of global sourcing and off-shore IT and IT enabled services (ITeS), there has been a spate of IT / ITeS start-ups that are all aspiring in some way or other to become the ‘next Infosys’ in their respective markets.

However, not all technology start-ups become mega-corporations (though the reverse may be true: several giants in the technology industry were small boot-strap start-ups in their infancy). Not just that, many don’t even scale up to the mid-market level (defined by, say, annual revenues to the tune of tens of millions of US $ and/or multiple hundreds of employees) and continue to remain at the ‘Small’ end of the ‘Small & Medium Enterprise’ (SME) categorization till they are either acquired by larger and stronger players or are just simply driven out of business. Founders and promoters of such ventures are often puzzled and frustrated by the inability of their start-up, now in its adolescence, to break through seemingly invisible barriers that appear to be limiting its growth, in spite of being in business for several years and having built a respectable brand with a proven track record. What they don’t realize is that a lot of the answers to their conundrum lie within the organization itself and in the mindset of the leaders that define and propagate its culture. In many cases, promoters get rid of the problem altogether by selling off the business, but the organization continues to carry the seeds of the problem which then poses a challenge to the new owner. In any case, the inability to grow beyond the invisible barrier continues to be a confounding mystery. Why does this happen? Quite simply, they have started-up and they have grown but they haven’t grown up. Let’s take a deeper and harder look under the hood and try and understand the anatomy of an average start-up culture.

The “Forever Young” mindset has everybody “Living In The Past”

First, let’s focus on the main malaise that afflicts most start-ups, illustrated by the following near-verbatim quote from a recent interview of Facebook’s Co-founder CEO & President, 26 year-old Mark Zuckerberg: “It is really important to always keep a beginner’s mind and think what we would do if we were starting the company now”. This may have been relevant in the context of Zuckerberg’s responses to questions he was being asked in that interview, but it’s a pleonasm to say that every start-up must have a “beginner’s mind”. The more important question is: must they always keep it? Common sense suggests that as a start-up grows it should develop the “beginner’s mind” further and move on to the next stage in its growth, which usually calls for a shift in mindset. It is always a good thing to go back and revisit the time and the space where the “beginner’s mind” was nurtured, but it would be a big mistake to continue to live in that mental space-time. Like humans, start-ups must learn to leave their childhood and adolescence behind as they start to deal with the complexities of corporate adulthood, if they want to grow beyond a point. (Even for humans who seek personal growth, reminiscence of halcyon days as teenagers does not constitute a vision for the future.) Utterances like the one above by Zuckerberg, pulled out of context, acquire their own life as viral memes of start-up wisdom in the highly impressionable social cyberspace, because they resonate very well with the “Forever Young” sentiment of entrepreneurs who simply don’t want to grow up. On the other hand, entrepreneurs who show a hunger for evolution and who are only too eager to embark on a journey towards maturity and sophistication, at the personal as well as the business level, are more likely to make that very important transition through which they will learn to take on and live out a C-level role on par with leaders of other industry majors.

The myth of the “Hands-on CxO” — portrait of the technician as a businessman

In many ways, the “Hands-on CxO” is a corollary of the “Forever Young” mindset. Beyond doubt, at start-up stage it is crucial for CxOs to be highly hands-on, roll up their sleeves and be exemplars of the ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) culture. But at some point along the road to growth and maturity, the business leader needs to grow up and actually become a CEO instead of behaving like an overgrown program manager or a sales rep, just as the technology leader needs to grow up and actually become a CTO instead of behaving like an overgrown code-cutter. That journey is as much a personal metamorphosis for the concerned leader as it is for the organization as a whole. Key focus areas for ‘growing up’, in this context, include learning to appreciate the importance of strategy and tactics on the one hand and structure and process on the other, learning to let go of preoccupations with production and delivery issues, and learning to delegate large chunks of the day-to-day operational routine to other team members (who in all likelihood are only too eager to step up and take charge). Not only does delegation release precious bandwidth of key leaders so that they can focus on understanding and embracing their new responsibilities as C-level executives, but also, delegation provides growth opportunities to the team members who get work assigned to them that they were not doing before. This kind of role transformation represents a major career shift for leaders of a start-up and many who aren’t quite ready for that shift tend to resist it with all they’ve got — they would insist on continuing to be hands-on / DIY specialists and would either refuse to delegate or agree to delegate but compulsively continue to micro-manage through remote control. This is partly because they love working on the technology too much, partly because they loathe and fear their new (‘management’) responsibilities too much, partly because they fear losing control over the start-up’s core technical competencies (and risk being challenged by internal upstarts who might grab the opportunity to get a better handle on the secret sauce) and partly because they fear losing touch with technology per se over the years (which would be a handicap should they have to go back to industry for a job, in case the start-up fails).

Cultivating a culture of gods and rock-stars may be good but could also erode value

In almost every technology start-up, there’s a small group of ‘gurus’ who are revered as the gods of that particular domain. The Hands-on CEO and the Hands-on CTO are at the apex of the hierarchy but others in this coterie are almost equally powerful. Younger team members and fresh recruits who show a lot of promise are encouraged to earn ‘rock-star’ status through their first few achievements, and are then invited to join this elite clique. The symbiosis is quite clearly understood but always tacit, never overtly spoken about — the gods preen themselves, drawing on the idolatry of the rock-stars, while the rock-stars enjoy being mollycoddled as special employees and gloat over the privilege of on-line and off-line proximity and access bestowed upon them by the gods. This caucus of gods and rock-starts drives the start-up’s agenda and scripts its future. They have the power to lift the start-up to great heights, as also to bring it down with a crash. They determine what platforms, what tools and what methodologies the firm will use, what they will create (or won’t) and what kind of work they will do (or won’t), who they will partner with and how they will go to market. They shape the talent acquisition strategy and process. It doesn’t stop there, in many cases: they also go on to influence (if not directly determine) strategic and tactical choices dealing with which business opportunities in which markets to chase and how to play to win. The power acquired by this core group could result in several side-effects that have the potential to subvert growth and end up hurting the start-up. For example, it could give birth to cultural xenophobia against lateral hires from the industry, especially if the new entrants also have stellar resumes and come highly recommended. It could trigger a ‘not invented here’ syndrome against new tools, methods, platforms and even new ways of thinking about the business. It could lead to a clinging-on to technologies or methodologies or ideas (or even operating locations and lifestyles) in which the caucus has deep emotional investments, but which are not aligned to market imperatives or do not support growth targets.

‘My Way or the Highway’ could lead to a dead-end either way

The most difficult challenges that a start-up faces in dealing with the winds of change brought by growth and scale, is the letting-go of points of control and the stepping-away from the comfort zones of the past. Growth and expansion usually involve the inorganic inclusion of new people, new ideas, new tools and new methods. Whether it is parting with equity to a new investor (or a new senior recruit) or having to bring in external talent (that internal old-timers may see as a threat) or having to re-shape the organization (resulting in a redefinition of power centers and personal alignments), start-ups must learn to open their minds and their hearts to change. Rejecting or strongly resisting change can mean stagnancy which eventually leads to failure. On the other hand, embracing change may not always guarantee results and in any case, change is never easy. That said, it is historically evident that start-ups that successfully break through the invisible barriers to growth are the ones whose leaders, gods and rock-stars have seen the need to change well ahead of time and have been pro-active in anticipating and meeting that change, thereby opening themselves up to the opportunities that come with maturity.

Posted in Organization, Strategy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Key Business Technology Trends and Themes

Posted by Hemant Puthli on December 18, 2009

It’s that time of the year again — as the holiday season approaches and the calendar year draws to a close, everybody is out there, trying to assess the year that was and trying to forecast the year that will be. In keeping with that tradition we have put together a list of trends and themes that emerge prominently out of our assessment of important developments that have shaped the growth of the business technology market in the recent past, and which will carry over their impact and momentum into the near future. Some of these trends and themes are at the ascent of their curve and approaching their peak, some have reached steady-state where they will continue for a while, while the others have run through their course and are beginning to enter the last leg of their life-cycle before they fade away (only to morph into new avatars of themselves — technology seems to do that thing quite often — the ‘back to the future’ thing).

We present two lists here: a list of 6 trends and a list of 6 themes, in no particular order. Trends pertain to the supply side of the market and are characteristics of products and services that are produced and delivered by vendors and providers. Themes pertain to the demand side of the market and emerge from major pre-occupations of most CIOs and their teams — their key concerns and the stuff that keeps them awake at night. A good way of reading these lists would be for vendors and providers to ask themselves how they can innovate and continue to develop products and services that leverage these 6 trends and help address their customers’ needs and concerns in those 6 thematic areas. Similarly, a good way of reading these lists would be for CIOs to ask themselves how they can stay focused on these 6 themes and deliver results by effectively deploying products and services emerging out of those 6 trends.

Trends (Supply-side)

  • Mobility and Mobile Computing
  • Web 2.0 / Social Networking and Social Media
  • Outsourcing / Off-shoring / Globalization of services
  • Virtualization and Cloud Computing
  • Analytics and Business Intelligence
  • Content and Knowledge Management

Themes (Demand-side)

  • Business Alignment: IT Strategy & Governance, support organizational / operational innovation and business transformation
  • Stakeholder Relationship Management: accountability to end-users, staff, suppliers, corporate leadership
  • Enterprise Architecture: simplification, standardization, consolidation
  • ‘Green IT’ and Corporate Responsibility: supporting social and environmental causes championed by the business
  • Cost Management: real-estate footprint, power consumption, procurement, licensing, maintenance, salaries and wages
  • Security & Risk Management: data security, customer privacy, access control, disaster management, business continuity

We recognize that there may be many trends as well as themes, other than those we have identified here above, that may be equally (or more) important within specific pockets or niches of the business technology market world-wide. By not including more trends and themes we are not suggesting that they are unimportant — we just wanted to keep our lists reasonably short and so decided to pick around half-a-dozen points for each (again, it was not a pre-defined number). Our lists only seek to represent the top few trends and themes aggregated across all industry verticals (such as banking, manufacturing, etc.) and functional horizontals (such as supply chain, customer relationship management, etc.) that the business technology market covers, across all geographies.

Do write in with your comments, especially if you feel we’ve missed out on something really important that needs to be captured in a high-level scan.

Posted in Governance, Strategy, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Change Management Q&A

Posted by Hemant Puthli on November 13, 2009

Over the last month or so, I answered a few questions on the LinkedIn network on the subject of ‘Change Management’. The questions and my answers are reproduced below:

What is successful change management?

To evaluate the end, we must go to the beginning.

Good practices in change management require that the criteria for success be established before kicking-off the change program. Things change, of course, and when they do, those criteria need to be reviewed and ‘tweaked’ if (and as) necessary. If this is done diligently, the answer to your question will be self-evident at the end of the change program.

And as to who should spell out the criteria – well, it has to be those who are initiating and sponsoring the change (weighted towards the latter, in case they are different entities / individuals).

This may not always be as easy as it sounds, and the services of a skilled (external?) ‘change agent’ would be required to extract the success criteria out of the minds of those driving the change.

Please share what you believe to be the three most important attributes of a good change management strategy.

A good change management strategy is characterized by:
(1) Clarity of vision and strength of purpose
(2) Inclusion of all relevant stakeholders; alignment of goals; communication
(3) Effectiveness of mechanisms that deal with planning and governance

There could be others, but these would be the top 3 most critical ones, in my opinion.

Today’s challenges for Change Management?

There could be several triggers to the need for change, such as: regulatory imperatives, stakeholder demands, environmental / competitive forces, new leadership / outlook, etc. Each brings with it its own mix of issues and opportunities, but regardless of that, in each case, the organization would be better off building a consensus for change (or at least, a business case) and anticipating and planning for the change well in advance of commencing the journey.

That said, the most common dimensions of impact in any given change programme include:
1. Stakeholders – customers, suppliers / partners, employees
2. Operations – processes, systems, technology / infrastructure

Most challenges could be found in these two areas. People generally do not like change and carrying them along is perhaps the biggest challenge. I don’t think the current economic climate has significantly changed this fact. On the contrary, it has probably magnified the criticality of inclusiveness and communication with key stakeholders.

P.S.

Two things come to mind, which are perhaps unique to our current ‘zeitgeist’ and they are: (1) cultural diversity and (2) economic (job) uncertainty. These two factors make it all the more difficult to bring people on-board toward a change agenda.

The body of knowledge on Change Management is quite vast, but in many ways, these three questions are key to “getting it right”: What is success? What is a good strategy? What are the big challenges? I hope that my answers, though brief, offer a helpful perspective.

Posted in Governance, Operations, Organization, Politics, Strategy | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Off-shoring Destinations: LatAm gets Muy Caliente!

Posted by Hemant Puthli on November 8, 2009

Research reports released in the recent past by two top-tier global consulting firms — one by A T Kearney prepared on behalf of ‘Invest Chile / CORFO’ (the Chilean Economic Development Agency), and the other by KPMG , indicate that Latin America is rapidly becoming a preferred region for outsourcing / off-shoring.

According to both reports, the main factors that are driving this trend are:

  • Geographical proximity of Central and South American countries to North America (impact: reduced travel time for client and service provider personnel)
  • Compatible time-zones (impact: overlapping business hours leading to less disruptions of daily routine for client and service provider personnel)
  • Common languages and cultural affinity with North America (impact: promotes quicker and stronger team cohesion between client teams and service provider teams, and smoother communications on an on-going basis)
  • Lower attrition rates (impact: reduced ‘leakage’ of knowledge and expertise, resulting in better cost / benefit ratio for investments in knowledge transfer and training, and better response time)
  • Improved telecommunications and other technology infrastructure (impact: reduced infrastructure risks, resulting in greater business continuity)
  • Favorable business environment including political stability and tax incentives in several countries (such as the ones mentioned below) (impact: financial attractiveness, reduced geo-political risk)

Top Locations in Latin America (source: A T Kearney)

As we had noted in an earlier post in this blog, these are more or less the same factors that underpin the weaknesses of destinations like India (as also China and other Asian countries), and the more aggressive players in the Central and South American region are clearly positioning their advantages in these areas as complementary to India and China. However, there continue to be concerns in a few key areas — particularly with regard to team size and scalability. In order to overcome this drawback, several countries in the region are actively working towards improving the quality and quantity of their resource pools, by focusing on education and training in technical as well as soft skills. Clearly, the more aggressive players have recognized the criticality of growing a scalable, highly skilled workforce that is adept at innovation. Other challenges include the need to change client perceptions about countries in the region as being politically unstable and their main cities as unsafe or even dangerous. In that respect, it is useful to note that recent terrorists attacks in India and the authoritarian regime in China have rendered the latter destinations less attractive.

Service providers with a global vision will benefit significantly by investing in expansion in key Latin America destinations. As regards Indian ITO and BPO shops, the future will reward those who think beyond their domestic boundaries, venture into the global arena, embrace new cultures, learn to leverage the advantages of these destinations and learn to share their knowledge and expertise. Conversely, the ones who are less open and flexible, or who are too strongly rooted in the Indian geography and/or ethos, will be relegated to the position of helpless bystanders, as they watch their market share dwindle and see their survival threatened as the domestic competition for a diminishing slice of the pie becomes even more fierce.

Posted in Operations, Strategy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Convergence: Evolution of Sustainable Business

Posted by Hemant Puthli on August 26, 2009

The diagram below represents the three generations of evolution of organizations and corporations, ending with convergence, in the 3rd generation.

HPA - Evolution of Sustainable Business

Historically, through the Industrial and post-Industrial era, we have seen the rise (and rise) of the traditional ‘profit-oriented’ corporations whose main objective was to create wealth for its stockholders and investors. Several such corporations also felt a moral obligation to give back to society, and accordingly funded charitable initiatives to help and support various elements of society, mainly the underprivileged communities. In more recent times (especially post WW II), we saw the emergence of the traditional ‘purpose-oriented’ organization whose main focus was on social development and/or environmental protection. In the organized sector, some of these were Government-funded donors of ‘aid’ while others were Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) funded privately. In the unorganized sector, individuals, associations, clubs etc. took up social and environmental activism towards the same or similar objectives albeit at a smaller scale and perhaps more locally focused.

The second generation (mostly in the present time) is manifesting two trends: (a) the move towards efficiency and competitiveness on the part of the purpose-oriented organizations, and (b) the move towards responsible citizenship on the part of profit-oriented corporations. Purpose-oriented organizations are focusing on cost management, productivity and other parameters of efficiency and effectiveness (‘cheaper / faster / better’) that have typically been characteristics of the traditional approach, culture and discipline of mainstream business. The emergence of the ‘social enterprise’ and ‘social entrepreneurship’ is a key milestone in this journey of evolution. Social enterprises are just like other enterprises, except that they focus on social causes and serve ‘customers’ of a different type. On the other hand, profit-oriented corporations are taking on more responsibility for their actions and for the impact of their operations on the environment as well as their host societies in locations where they operate. This is visible through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and ‘Green’ initiatives (in syncretic co-existence, but seldom integrated with the mainstream business), which  are signs of a growing awareness and the sense of urgency to respond to challenges in these key areas, on the part of the corporate sector.

In a not-too-distant future, we will see a confluence of these two streams of evolution, converging into a single type of organization / enterprise — the sustainable business. The sustainable business will seek to make a profit, but through a purpose. It will try to be socially relevant, environmentally responsive and economically viable all at once, in a cohesive fashion. It will develop its own way of integrating what were hitherto seen as diverse and contradictory objectives, into the holistic goal of sustainability.

Posted in Economics, Environment, Organization, Society, Strategy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »