NANCY’S BLOG: Moving from Extraction to Contribution. Part 2.

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Anyone who has listened to me recently knows this is an idea I feel is worth spreading. And though we wrote about this on New Year’s Day, as you’ve seen from the posts this week, the clang keeps getting louder.

That said, it’s important to clarify we are NOT talking about creating more CSR  (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts. When we advocate for Contribution, we’re looking at it much more holistically.

Given the shocking stat that in America, we wouldn’t care if 92% (!!) of all brands disappearedand the encouraging news that we are increasingly concerned about over-consumption and waste it becomes clear that driving strong market relevance, and thus a healthy bottom line, is achieved by strengthening (vs extracting) from our collective society. What we’re describing here is a commitment to harnessing our resources as effectively as possible by considering the needs of all stakeholders – both within and outside the organization.

Simon Anholt (2014 TED speaker) chatted with a few of us recently about the need to commit to a “dual mandate; approaching each decision we make by considering what is good for us and what is good for the rest of the world. He’s committed to convincing the heads of state around the world to become “gooder”.

We agree 100%. And one of our closest collaborators, society visionary Matthew Schutte and I have spent hours teasing this out and together we are developing a model that makes the distinction between these two forms of Contribution:

VALUE TRANSFER: compartmentalizing business operations separately from societal contributions and thus, philanthropically transferring value from the core business to others who need support or advocacy. Classic examples are Coke, McDonald’s, and yes, even Tom’s.


VALUE CREATION: aligning around an Integrated Purpose in order to intentionally create Value throughout each part of an organization by recognizing and amplifying the interdependencies that exist throughout. Strong (though never perfect) examples include: Whole Foods, Chipotle, and Levi’s.

Both approaches offer societal benefits beyond pure Value Extraction, but we are always inspired by the business and societal potential that lies in centering business around a Integrated Purpose.

This topic will gain attention as many iconic and passionately loved brands — from Blackberry to McDonald’s — continue to see sales declines. The stories below support the premise that it’s time we move from a framework of Extraction (i.e. working in isolation to control all resources in order to primarily drive shareholder value) to a more holistic sense of business that:

• Believes corporations are the single greatest engine for societal change

• Shifts from a mindset of “what can we gain?” to “what can we offer?”

• Appreciates the potential that exists in collaborating and facilitating connection

• And accepts that measuring success in this way is more complex and nuanced than striving for a simple bottom-line number

Shifting to this view of business is playing big.

xo, Nancy


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