It is time to move on from theTriple Bottom Line …

It is time to move on from theTriple Bottom Line …

We have become very familiar with the Triple Bottom Line approach for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, ie Environment, Society and Economic. It forms the basis of many environmental and sustainability visions, policy statements, and development initiatives.

In the business arena, this is the acknowledged responsible ‘bottom line’ of meeting economic goals (usually profit) whilst also meeting environmental (impact) and social (community) goals in carrying out business activities. The triple bottom line approach provides a practical framework for the development of policies and strategies to drive institutional change.

roots coyo triple bottom line
Triple Bottom Line as drawn by COYO students

And of course we are now familiar with the well used triple bottom line venn diagram. If like me you loved Venn Diagrams at school, then its a real pleasure to see such vital and complex issues such s sustainability expressed as three interwoven circles. The Triple Bottom Line has also been represented as a three legged stool or as three columns.

As mentioned previously on this blog, this triple bottom line thinking can be traced back to Patrick Geddes who, now recognised as the Grandfather of Town and Country Planning coined the triptych Place, Folk and Work. Its current concept however is credited to John Elkington in his 1998 book Cannibals with Forks:Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.

Whilst we can easily identify Geddes’ Place as being the Environment circle, (note, interestingly the Living Building Challenge renamed its Site Petal as Place for version 3), the Work aspect is readily identified as the Economy circle, there is an uneasy fit with people or folk within the Society circle. Are staff part of society, and where do the governance arrangements of a business (including vital for sustainability ISO 9001 related quality and organisational arrangements / controls) fit into the sustainability three circles?

Quad Bottom Line
Quadruple Bottom Line introduces Governance as the fourth ‘Petal’

The Quadruple Bottom Line introduces Governance as the fourth bottom line, or perhaps better, as Culture

Governance, or Culture is defined here as including both the formal business, administrative and ‘control’ processes of an organisation, as well as the informal networks, traditions and cultural and behavioural norms which act as enablers or disablers of sustainable development.

Sustainability governance therefore could include those organisational items that are increasingly seen as the vital enablers for sustainable development – many of which are embedded within the modern sustainability building programmes such as the Living Building Challenge, JUST, or Well Building Standard, including:
Diversity
Equity
Fairpay
Education
Collaborative Working
Working Places
Biophilia
Health and Wellbeing
Happiness
Communications and social media

This new, fourth leaf on the sustainability venn diagram, raises both important questions and huge opportunities for advancing sustainability development, and could usher in a new generation of sustainability thinking.

For example, what are the ‘governance’ issues of construction site facilities, welfare and administration that enable sustainable construction … more

Extract from forthcoming FutuREstotative

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Constructing social media leadership …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the last year or so we have seen growth and a big change in attitudes to social media, with perhaps in twitter particular, now an accepted element in today’s communication mix.

Those who a few years back were adamantly against social media have now joined, often with a fanfare of “we’ve arrived, we’re innovative” (look at us!) and with some organisations once totally anti social media now proclaiming expertise in helping others.

Back in 2012 I wrote in the Guardian (Why the construction sector should engage with social media) that one of the barriers to social media take up, and hence by default a barrier to collaborative working communications,  BIM, learning and sharing  and general construction improvement is the reluctance of directors and senior managers to recognise, embrace or enable social media. Of course there are as ever some great exceptions to this,  But all too often directors have tinkered out of curiosity, and empty LinkedIn and twitter accounts set up now tell a different story … of organisations and directors who are poor communicators.

So why are built environment organisation leaders slow to embrace these communication platforms? Maybe its the:

Need to retain control – the beauty of social media is in its open sharing, we can never know who staff will reach, converse with, learn from, share with, collaborate with and how those we converse with will respond.

Lack of understanding Digital communications is expanding rapidly, beyond the understanding of many. Consequently many directors feel vulnerable in engaging with something they don’t understand, so stay away.

Fear of just being a fad. Without a clear vision of how social media will evolve, and how it can be used strategically to benefit an organisation, many directors are reluctant to invest in seemingly unchartered waters.

And all this is sad for a 21st century construction sector, where communications are so often the root cause of most of our problems, where most companies promote a vision of innovative, open, collaborative and where most directors sell themselves as enabling role models for innovation.

Social media presence is increasingly used as a good test of an organisations, and indeed the organisation’s leaders  claims within PQQ’s, Bids and PR material to be innovative, having effective internal and external communications.

Earlier this year we started Sustainability Leadership Conversations, powered by social media, to enable leaders of smaller built environment organisations to engage with the sustainability conversations that take place across across social media. Initially these are  monthly twitter conversations with leading individuals, but will expand to facilitate conversations between organisations, between UK and USA SME organisations. Join us and discuss on the 01 Oct  for our next sustainability leadership conversation by using and following the #SustLdrConv hashtag.

Having a strategy for social media in your organisation is essential, as it is with other initiatives, and should be the starting point for adopting social media approaches. To discuss support for getting your strategy underway, get in touch (Martin in UK, Andrea in USA)

If you are UK based, we can help you apply for Innovation Voucher funding to ensure your social media, digital communication and BIM journey sets off on the right footing. (Next application closes in October)

Building Down Green Deal Barriers

Themes covered in the Cumbria Green Deal workshop yesterday, both within round table groups and in general discussions were strikingly familiar, being the age old improvement issues that the construction and built environment sector has been trying to address for the last few decades.

It is encouraging that Green Deal is raising these themes with a new audience, and reinforces the point that Green Deal is another important improvement step on route to construction excellence. However, it is also a reminder that Green Deal may be doomed to failure it its just another sticking plaster applied over our industry core problems

So, forgetting for a moment the mechanics of Green Deal, what are the underlying themes …

Collaborative Working – the need to work together, across supply chains and in consortia is emerging as a pre-requisite for Green Deal.  The six principles of Collaboartive Working, (Compete on Value, Relationships, Integrated Working, Collaborative Cost Management, Continuous Improvement and People Development), first developed under the Building Down Barriers are very appropriate to Green Deal today.

Added Value and Lean Construction – the need to reduce costs whilst improving value. The need to be lean across the Green Deal process. The first Lean Management principle of identifying and stripping waste out is key to effective Green Deal delivery

Open and Transparent Costing – essential to get back to real costs, adopting new and radical approaches to pricing and dealing with risks, and the need to eradicate competition by profit / lowest cost.

Communications – across Green Deal players, with customers and consumers to the way in which we market and promote ourselves.

With the main root of construction problems being related to communication issues, effective approaches to Green Deal communication is vital

Sustainability and CSR – from technical sustainability of how to improve performance of hard to treat properties, to green skill development, to procuring local and appropriate resourcing all get a good outing in Green Deal discussions

Value Management – the need to evaluate between differing Green Deal Plan options, products and quotes across a differing range of criteria (cost, life cycle, replacement, appearance, performance etc) will benefit from robust value management approaches.

Quality Management – our industry SME resistance to adopting processes and certification that applied correctly will improve quality and consistency, reduce errors, reworking and costs, but importantly offer confidence to clients now shifts from ISO 9001 to PAS 2030.

Automation – will automating processes without loosing face to face relationships usher in a world of iPads, social media and improved streamlining of routine / back of house processes?

What will Green Deal do for your organisation?

Related:

On this blog:  Where Greendeal will succeed …

See Su Butcher’s Just Practising blog and comments to What will the Green Deal do for us?

Building Down Barriers Supply Chain Handbook