Monday, 29 January 2018
An 18 year old idea whose time has come?
As a part of this I've begun reviewing my out of print books with the view to updating and republishing. In this regard I haven't yet got past my first book that was published in 2000 (except that it will need a new cover)!
I introduced the concept of a five-fold bottom line (pictured below) in this book. The concept didn't really take off. Below the picture is part of what I originally wrote in the book.
I would be very grateful for your thoughts as to whether or not you believe the concept has a place in the world of purpose-driven or conscious businesses which I see as the future. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance.
"In an excellent book, ‘Intelligent Leadership, Alistair Mant says “The evidence suggests that confidence in political leaders is diminishing, to the point where the democratic process itself is threatened. Confidence in the morals and capability of business leadership has also diminished…It doesn’t stop there. Confidence in public administrators, trade unions, senior military officers, church leaders, teachers, and even parents has been shaken by the manifest failure of all kinds of institutions to cope intelligently with change.”
I agree with this author’s assessment. A major reason for this crisis of confidence is a biased focus on economics. The ultimate measurement it seems is how much it costs or how much we make; and people are suffering as a consequence.
Organisations must make economic profits, however, to increase profits without hurting people we must broaden our focus to include other bottom lines.
A few years ago I was a member of a Business SA lunch time audience who listened intently to futurist Richard Neville espouse the value to organisations of pursuing a ‘triple bottom line’. This is the traditional way of assessing an organisation’s performance, which is economic prosperity, plus two more recent ways, environmental sustainability and social responsibility.
The discussion around the table that day was a mixture of optimism and pessimism. For some, making money and being socially responsible was seen as impossible at worst and difficult at best. For some, the very idea of being able to maximise monetary profits while at the same time caring for the environment, was seen as desirable yet very difficult to achieve.
For others, the ‘triple bottom line’ had strong appeal; indeed some were already pursuing it.
I left lunch that day deep in thought. Organisations must be economically prosperous in order to grow. Is it possible to make money and care for people and the environment at the same time?
My answer has become a resounding YES. Profit and people do not need to be opposing forces and neither do profits and caring for the environment.
My research has lead me however to the conclusion that success with a ‘triple bottom line’ will not be enough for us to restore our confidence in our leaders. Two further bottom lines are required for the very survival of the human race. These are spiritual validity and universal harmony.
The Five-Fold Bottom Line
Economic Prosperity: Making monetary profit is essential for personal and business sustainability and growth; and for our being able to choose our lifestyle now and in the future.
Social Responsibility: All organisations are made up of individual people. The cost, and not just economically, of unhealthy and unhappy workers is probably immeasurable. Therefore every organisation has a role to play in helping to prevent social ills. Businesses must be responsible members of the communities in which we operate. Corporate citizenship is now much more than a sneaky way to promote our brands.
Environmental Sustainability: Once, most of us turned a blind eye to waste disposal and a myriad of other environmental disasters. Thankfully most of us no longer do. As the simple weekly collection of recyclable items in many Australian neighbourhoods demonstrates we can save our planet if we work together. All businesses have a clear obligation to obtain and dispose of resources in ways that protect and sustain our environment.
Universal Harmony: We are living in a global village. The Internet in particular makes it possible to do business with almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost any time. We are also at war in many places despite the obvious fact that war never leads to peace. As businesses we must ensure that what we make, sell and deliver does not, in any way, contribute to local or global disharmony. Organisations increasingly have a role to help bring about and sustain universal harmony.
Spiritual Validity: In survey after survey what we repeatedly find is that people want, above all else, to be genuinely valued. For a business this takes much more than being socially responsible. At no previous time in history has there been such a search for meaning. Many people are searching outside of the church for spiritual answers. The workplace can no longer be a place where people are treated as mere commodities, or God forbid, resources.
We must build workplaces that are uplifting for the human spirit. A bottom line that honours and values the spirit of all people leads to greater performance in all other areas. Organisations who ignore this do so at their peril.
These five bottom lines must be our targets."