Sustainability means “so that things can continue to exist”, are done in a way that allows them to continue to happen in the future. If we look at how business is done today, there is a clear trend that shows that a sustainable way of doing business is recognized as the way to do business going forward. This “next generation business” is meant to be sustainable – organized in a way that will allow business to continue to grow in the future. A next generation business model can be considered from 4 lenses:
1. Customer relationships: There is more emphasis on business being client centric and focused on interaction with the client, to the point of business being driven by the client. In addition to a rise in mass customization. Examples of new customer relationships can be seen in Lego and P&G
2. Organization structures: Structures of doing business are evolving to being more network based and bottom up, and employees at all levels are more engaged in the entire business process. Examples of new organization structures that drive the business forward can be seen in Google, 3M, Cisco, and Avon.
3. Corporate responsibility: The responsibilities of business are broadening to consider the triple bottom line (rather than just the financial bottom line). Examples of organizations that are integrating these broader set of responsibilities and use them as a driving force for their business (rather than a “nice to have” or “looks good”) are Triodos Bank and Interface Carpets.
4. Economic models: There are different ways of generating revenue than just the traditional form, which are a result of the interaction between the previous three points. For example, in India Unilever did not have the ability to distribute to remote areas; instead, they set up microfinance “poles”, where the women they were trying to reach as a consumer would come to and then were able to distribute their products there, all the while supporting local communities. Or consider Wikipedia, where content (and the organisation’s value) is almost entirely generated by volunteers
The Future Leadership Institute is aimed at equipping future leaders with what they need to be successful. These leaders need to understand the context they will be operating in and therefore the need for business models to improve so that economic activities can continue in the future. At the same time, these future leaders need a different skillset, so that they are able to reconcile not only the way business is done today with tomorrow’s business environment, but are also able to envision that future (regardless of external pressures such as legislation an environment).
by Araz Najarian
Creative Director at ELP | Realising Breakthroughs
“Growth is good, but in today’s world it’s not enough. To solve the complexity of challenges we face and realize the potential from the opportunities available; transformation is necessary. Transformation requires being insightful (tapping into our past wisdom) AND inciteful (uncovering hidden assumptions, overturning these beliefs and breaking our biases) to unleash our innovative capacity.” (Araz Najarian)
Categories: Leadership in Sustainability