Business 2.0, Social media & networking, Sustainability

Platforms for shared value creation (redux)

I’ve just completed 3rd semester of my masters degree, and I wanted to share one of the papers I wrote on the concept of Platforms for shared value creation, that builds on the model that I outlined in my Web Directions South 2010 talk.

Diagram outlining the 'Platform for shared value creation' concept

The paper, which is provided under a Creative Commons license:

…proposes a model of service delivery that has the potential to create shared value (Porter & Kramer 2011), addressing pressing societal and environmental needs while delivering commercial returns. The aim of this paper is to introduce the model — the “platform for shared value creation” (PSVC) — as a first step towards further exploration in the future. The model is not yet fully-formed and as such this paper should be considered more as “thinking in draft” for further discussion and refinement.

While the nature of these things means it takes an academic tone, I hope that it provides some value as a contribution to discussions around shared value, Collaborative Consumption, and social innovation. I would love to know any feedback you might have, so please drop me a note in the comments if you find it useful, or want to challenge or probe any of its assertions.

Design, Sustainability

Report on design thinking and sustainability

Posting has been light here the past few weeks, partly due to most of my writing energy being focused on my project report on Design thinking and sustainability (PDF 1.5MB), my first major assessment for the Master of Sustainable Practice postgraduate degree I’m currently undertaking at RMIT.

The summary of the report is:

Media coverage of the impact of ʻdesign thinkingʼ – also described as ʻhuman-centred designʼ or ʻservice designʼ, among other terms – on business and society seems to be on the increase, with much of the discussion focusing on its application to innovation practice.

Simultaneously, the need for business and public services to integrate socially and environmentally sustainable practices is becoming more urgent and important to address pressing issues such as climate change, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and growing social challenges and perceived deterioration of community.

This paper briefly explores the impacts of design on business before providing a working definition and overview of the key themes of design thinking. It then outlines commonly recognised environmentally-focused sustainable design principles and considers how design thinking could be applied in support of these.

Although a (non-exhaustive) review of specific examples of design thinking applied to environmentally sustainable objectives was undertaken in preparation of this paper, such examples are relatively few. As such, while specific examples are touched upon, the primary focus of the paper is on the potential application of design thinking in this context.

While academic in tone (it is a uni assessment after all) and relatively long (20+ pages), I thought it might be of interest to some readers of this blog given the topic/focus.

As is often the case with this sort of things there are elements I’d improve/extend if I had more time – particularly I’d like to provide more than just passing comment to the link between sustainability and innovation – but I do hope the result provokes some interesting and beneficial dialogue.

I’d also like to publicly thank the following folks for their support through inspiration, conversation, experience and pointers to examples and resources before and during the preparation of the paper:

Business 2.0, Government 2.0, Social media & networking, Sustainability

“Green confidence” and the power of peers

I have been catching up on some reading the past few days, and came across Joel Makower’s post introducing the Green Confidence Index.

The index is a monthly research report “tracking Americans’ attitudes about and confidence in their leaders and institutions, nationally and locally, on the subject of environmental responsibility, as well as in their own understanding of issues and their willingness to make green purchasing choices”.

Joel has often lamented the irregular survey’s on the public’s willingness to “buy green” in the past, and this seems like a concrete step towards creating a stronger data-set and getting a clearer indication of attitudes.

Two comments in Joel’s introduction stood out for me. In describing the September results of the first component of the index, “Responsibility”, he notes:

Responsibility — how well various groups and institutions are addressing environmental issues: too much, enough, or too little. The groups include the U.S. government, state and local governments, major corporations, individuals’ own employers, their neighbors, and themselves (weight: 40%).

Later, he reports:

Another question asked what sources of environmental information Americans use and trust. The bad news for companies: Corporate websites and blogs ranked last in a list of 13 media types in terms of their use and trust. Word of mouth was seen to be potent: Friends, family, and colleagues ranked highest as the most used and trusted, followed by consumer ratings and reviews. Green blogs and websites had the biggest trust-use gap: they are a trusted information resource, though their usage lags.

I think both of these are reflective of the power of peer networks. In the first, the proximity of a person to their peers creates a tendency to see them as more trustworthy, therefore perceived to be more likely to be doing the right thing. (One could also argue that respondents wanted to not be seen as doing the “wrong” thing.)

The second point is a reflection of the well understood trend, exemplified by Edeleman’s Trust Barometer, that peers hold much stronger influence than corporations.

While I’m clearly biased given my line of work, I can’t help but equate these things back the role that social networks have to play in advancing sustainability…

There’s a sample report available for free if you’re interested in the results of the initial surveys. The service is then charged at an introductory annual fee of USD$299 (usually USD$499).