DISCUSSION New Year (Re)solutions

by Yolanda Villafuerte _______28th January 2011
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by Tania Ellis

Every New Year brings new resolutions – and solutions. What’s yours? Do you want to boost your turnover? Or do you want more innovation? More social responsibility? More sustainability? Here are some resolutions and inspirational tips that will get your year off to a running start.

Resolution #1 – Strategic CSR with bottom line results

Classic corporate philanthropy such as donations, sponsorship and volunteering creates social value. But if unrelated to the company’s business, philanthropy will be the first thing to go in times of crisis because it is not viewed as a source of revenue.

By shifting from ‘philanthropic CSR’ as a distinct add-on activity to ‘strategic CSR’ with activities that complement – or maybe even become – the core of business, more value is added to both society and the company.

In my latest book The New Pioneers, I present the four cornerstones of sustainable business – The 4 Enabling C’s – which you can use as a check list for developing your sustainable business strategy or current social responsibility efforts:

Clear purpose – Your choice of social/environmental activities should match your company’s core competences, reflect company culture and support your business goals and challenges. Take the time to discuss the purpose of your socially responsible commitments – is it to improve your image, up your revenue, beat competition or develop new products?

Corporate engagement – Do your structures, processes, performance systems and internal training programmes support your sustainability goals? And how do you involve your organisation in the company’s social resonsibility-efforts so they’re not limited to one person or department?

Collaborative co-creation – sustainable business solutions unfold through interaction with your company’s stakeholders online as well as offline. By inviting them to participate in the development- or implementation process, you can access a flow of fresh ideas, values and renewed energy. Which of your key stakeholders do you want to involve – and how?

Clear communication – Combining traditional communication channels with interactive media makes it possible not only to communicate but also to engage, get new ideas and react swiftly to mistakes. Which communication channels does your company use in addition to newsletters and annual reports? Which social media do you use – and with what purpose?

Resolution #2 – Get started with CSI

Corporate Social Innovation is the next step for companies and organisations already aware of the necessity as well as the benefits of practicing strategic CSR which complements or even becomes the core of their business.

Last month The European Financial Review published my article “Sustainable business success through corporate social innovation”. Here, you can read about companies such as Nike, CEMEX, General Electric and Uniever, who are creating corporate social innovations based on the principles described in The 4 Enabling C’s.

But CSI is not just for large multinational corporations. Small and medium-sized companies can also get in the game with inspiration from, for example, a new online tool called The Ideas Compass which I contributed to last year. The Ideas Compass is the result of a joint Nordic project on CSR-driven innovation, run by the Danish Government Centre for CSR.

The transformation of the internet through new social technologies is also opening up for (corporate) social innovation in new ways: with Web 2.0 comes CSR 2.0 with new possibilities for social interaction, involvement and participation in finding innovative ways to tackle everything from individual business challenges to global problems.

Learn how front-running companies are using the new technologies to engage stakeholders, innovate business and co-create new ideas and products in collaboration with the outside world in my recent blogpost about new world CSR.

Resolution #3 – Broaden your horizon

Globalization is changing the way we do business as well as the terms for CSR. In order to be relevant and effective, CSR must be defined by its national and cultural context. If you are looking for insight into the way CSR is practiced around the globe, I recommend The World Guide to CSR – an illuminating read providing comparable national profiles that describe the evolution and practice of CSR in over 60 countries including South Africa, USA, India, United Kingdom, France and Brazil.

Each regional and national profile includes key information about the relevant history, country-specific issues, trends, research and leading organisations.

Resolution #4 – Follow the trails of the New Pioneers

The New Pioneers are this century’s generation of visionary leaders, social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs. Stay up to date and informed about the latest development in the social business field here on the Force For Good website [update: Force For Good has now been incorporated into the Tomorrow’s Company site] and on my New Pioneers blog, where I write about social entrepreneurship, business innovations and the global social business trends that are shaping our lives in new ways and creating a new face of capitalism.

Read my latest blog post about “A business force for good” here.

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