Insight & Analysis

Get past zero-sum win-lose and embrace aligned value and impact

By Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global CSR expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and Advisory Service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.

Sustainability performance is one of the fastest growing issues facing businesses and organizations today.  Too often this is setting up debilitating win/lose internal confrontations with negative impacts on people, organizations and sustainability.  

Businesses face increasing expectations to deliver more shareholder value, more social impact and be better environmental stewards.  Zero-sum, win/lose approaches to addressing these pressures are untenable. It is critical to learn how to systematically create alignment and synergy

Public, private and civil society organizations of all types, including businesses, are expected to deliver social value, SDG impact and be effective stewards of the environment, at the same time as delivering on their organizational mission and mandate.  This expectation is rising rapidly and putting pressures on leaders, managers and organizations.

Investors, consumers, governments, employees, regulators, shareholders, communities and others are all expecting more.  And seem to have increasing power to make their expectations heard and punish those that don’t deliver.

Traditional, zero-sum approaches that separate organizational performance, social impact and environmental stewardship and set up contentious win-lose scenarios are costing businesses, putting shareholder value, social impact and environmental stewardship in untenable and potentially disastrous either/or situations.  In many organizations human and organizational tensions are mounting as rapidly as expectations as beleaguered leaders and managers adjust to today’s reality

Yet, other organizations are facing the same pressures and finding opportunity in them.  Companies are increasing social impact and SDG performance and leveraging that into competitive advantage and market opportunity; improving environmental stewardship is reducing costs and facilitating stakeholder engagement.

What is the difference?  Why are some businesses finding opportunity in the same situations as others are finding risk and debilitating pressures.

In many cases it is simply in the approach.  Too often there is a baked-in zero-sum, win-lose mentality where shareholder value, social impact and environmental stewardship are seen as competing interests.  To get more of one you must give up some of the others. In an era of ever increasing pressure to do more of all of them this is a surefire recipe for disaster.

Other organizations are searching for alignment between them.  Looking for opportunities where doing more of one improves performance in the others as well.  They know that all social impact is not created equal, that environmental stewardship is not a one-size fits all issue.

They are identifying ways in which they can enhance social impact and use that to create marketing and business development strategies.  They don’t blindly rush into filling a social need, but instead look to find those places where they can invest in social impact and concurrently create business advantage.  They don’t simply target improved environmental performance, but look for opportunities where improving environmental performance can also deliver business impact and relationship capital.

Smart companies aren’t just ‘doing good’.  They are doing smart. They are positioning themselves to be able to do more for society and environment because it also does more for the businesses itself.  

At the CSR Training Institute we specialize in helping business understand and develop these ‘sweet spots’ where there is alignment between business value, social impact and environmental performance, creating strategic competitive advantage for you and your company.

If your organization is struggling to align the value of CSR and SDGs with impact, I want to talk to you.

You can send a note directly to me at wayne@CSRtraininginstitute.com and we can set up a complimentary 20 minute consultation.