If profits are going strong, that means happy owners and shareholders, happy leaders, and happy consumers. But there’s a problem. A niggling issue that can bring down even the strongest, most secure of organisations, profitable or otherwise. Sustainability.
Without sustainability, there is only short-termism. A business model that has short-term thinking, objectives and strategies at its roots may still be able to achieve great things, but like a light that burns too brightly, that success can quickly fade away. Furthermore, a company that is blinkered to the serious issues that relate to sustainability is vulnerable to corporate malpractice and public relations disasters – as well as missing out on crucial competitive opportunities.
So where does collaboration software and the triple bottom line fit in to this? Well, the triple bottom line is sustainability. It refers to the 3 Ps of profit, people and the planet, where an organisation establishes its objectives in order to accommodate these 3 Ps into the accounting framework.
Here, a positive, motivated workforce has value in its own right, just as being progressive and constructive towards local communities has value. Equally, how a company manages its resources, materials and waste is crucial to how it views and measures its performance – irrespective of profitability.
So while failure to successfully improve working conditions may or may not directly affect profit margins, it would nevertheless demand that the company re-evaluate its business model. Similarly, a non-sustainable approach to waste management may not concern the shareholders when they see quarterly results, but it shows that the organisation is not functioning optimally.
And the incentive to go all gooey and people-planet orientated? A sustainable, ethical approach to the broad areas of business activity promotes positive relationships with consumers, workers and partners. This strengthens brand and loyalty, and improves productivity while addressing traditional hindrances or concerns, such as high staff turnover or the risk of negligent practice. It encourages cooperation and progressive thinking. It facilitates innovation, creativity and efficient practices – all essential features of organisations that survive and prosper in competitive business environments.
Collaborative software, cloud-computing, practical solutions. The wave after wave of innovation that is occurring in technology and engineering has paved the way for all kinds of businesses to put the triple bottom line theory into practice.
By implementing cloud technology, companies push towards being paper-free; by implementing collaborative software, they improve productivity and boost working conditions; by creating remote teams, they slash overheads and reduce their carbon footprint.
Seeking out ways to incorporate the triple bottom line into an organisation’s business model isn’t just ethically sound, it’s solid business planning. Profitability may be a company’s ultimate goal, but in order to maintain profitability over a sustained period, it cannot be allowed to dominate social and environmental concerns.