The more meetings and events I attend, the more results measurement is part of the conversation. What are the goals and targets? How are you going to measure results? Are those results the most meaningful?
We work in a world where increasingly more public, private and multilateral entities set targets and measure their social and environmental indicators in many ways. Yet so much is being done that it is now becoming difficult to analyze and compare all the information. There are indicators for the UN, World Bank and IDB. Governments are adopting performance and evaluation systems, and individual private companies are developing their own social and environmental indicators.
I recently learned about Colombian organizations engaged in activities that utilize their core business to support social and/or environmental issues. The companies maintained, if not increased, profitability while pursuing a larger purpose. Promigas natural gas company, for example, is concerned about utility connections for the lowest income strata and creating installation payment plans that are flexible and take into account their income level. Alquería Dairy company makes investments in sustainable supply chains that support smaller, local farmers. Each company is evaluating the results of these initiatives, measuring who and what is impacted by their work and how.
These are illustrations of “shared value” – taking a business and making it smarter, more strategic, more inclusive and ultimately more valuable.
Additionally, governments are making committments. Colombia’s “Prosperity for All”(Prosperidad para Todos) National Plan includes tangible indicators to monitor and evaluate goals, many of which look to the private sector to invest in education, entrepreneurship, innovation, science and technology.
Results measurement can be a useful tool for not only internal management and benchmarking but for facilitating external comparisons and healthy competition across companies and sectors. Results effectively communicate the intersection between societal issues and economic value to employees, customers and the market. Results reinforce a business’ license to operate.
Creating a results framework can be a difficult first step. And I encourage those who have not, to consider developing one as part of their shared value-approach.
However, how do we analyze all the indicators and data that have emerged? What more can be done to harmonize and focus results to more effectively benchmark and compare? And how do we best coordinate across the private and public worlds? Hopefully we can agree on mutually beneficial targets and indicators that foster healthy competition among companies and continue to unlock societal and environmental value for the future.