Transformation of the business world ahead – Why Social is the new Digital.
Aktualisiert: 2. Dez 2019
What becomes clear when talking to company owners and leaders is: In the complex world we live in, navigating the day-to-day business challenges is a massive task. A task that captures most of our mental capacity.
But isn’t the main task of leadership to prepare the business for the future?
Are we so caught up in getting it right today, that we lose sight of getting it right in the future?
Earlier this century, it was digitalisation that everyone talked about. For many, it became the business priority number one as they saw the immense value it brings to the business. But frankly, there are still by far too many companies that are not significantly more digital than 20 years ago. Many stand back while competitors leverage the advantages of digital tools and put them out of business. There is no doubt that this continues to challenge leaders running their business today and preparing it for tomorrow.
But now, environmental and social matters gain more and more attention too and are considered a driving factor for business success.
»Those who are not beginning to see a positive contribution to society as part of their core business will be out of the game just like those who missed out on digitalisation.« - Saskia Bruysten (Yunus Social Business) in Capital
With #Fridays4Future and similar movements, a global zeitgeist has evolved that fundamentally questions and continues to raise concerns about how we live and do business today. Issues such as climate change, economic and educational inequality as well as mass migration and biodiversity are constantly moving up on the agenda in almost any context.
The three main stakeholder groups for companies (customers, investors, and employees) not only require absolute transparency about externalities but even demand that companies innovate and evolve to become part of the solution where they are still largely part of the problem today.
»We will enter the 2020s with more citizens, investors, and leaders convinced that the way business, capital, and government work must change—and change quickly« as the BCG puts it.
A company’s societal license to operate is now closely tied to its ESG performance and whether it remains part of the problem or begins to establish itself as part of the solution. Sustainability and a positive contribution to society indeed have become business imperatives.
Today, in order to “get it right in the future”, leaders need to build companies with a strong and holistically relevant Purpose. A role that the company can play in our global society as well as in all the local communities it operates in.
As we have seen with digitalization, those companies who proactively redefined the means and scope of competition were the ones that came out as winners. But differentiating on environmental and social dimensions is no longer a matter of nice-to-have and add-on CSR measures or shiny sustainability reports. It means transforming the core business and rethinking how it is run. It is about building new business models that encourage sufficiency, “enable circular economies for precious resources, provide assets that are shared rather than owned, broaden access and inclusion”, and develop highly scalable solutions (Bocken et al. 2016).
As leaders, it is on us to not get caught up too much in our day-to-day business challenges and to not merely focus on getting it right today. To run businesses successfully, we need leaders who invest in getting it right in the future. Who build innovative business models that serve both humanity and the company itself. We need leaders who redefine competition in entire industries, take a stand and join forces to multiply positive societal impact.