“I saw more plastic bags than fish,” says Boyan Slat who as a 16-year-old went scuba diving in Greece. Curious, he explored and discovered that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans. The plastic is carried by currents and congregates in five revolving water systems, called gyres, in the major oceans, the most infamous being the huge Pacific Garbage Patch is now twice the size of Texas. Boyan now knew this was a big problem, but he was shocked and surprised that there was no apparent solution. “Everyone said to me: ‘Oh there’s nothing you can do about plastic once it gets into the oceans‘ and I wondered whether that was true.”
Stories like these inspire us at TomorrowToday Consulting (TTC). “We’ve always explored disruptive forces shaping the future” says founder and CEO Dean van Leeuwen. A few years ago, we identified an emerging trend. A new type of leader was using the power of business, not in a philanthropic CSR type of way, but as a force for profitable good. Leaders from Boyan Slant to JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon to Unilever’s (now ex-CEO) Paul Polman were embarking on quests that make the world a better place. “This excited us hugely,” says Dean, “we also wanted to play a role in building momentum in the fledging doing well, by doing good movement” and so, the seed for TomorrowToday Consulting was sown.
It was clear to us from early on that it is more critical than ever for the 21st Century corporation to address the challenges the world faces. This cannot be achieved through myopic and short-term thinking, but by being bold and focusing on generating long-term value for all stakeholders because then shared prosperity, sustainability and remarkable results can be achieved. We knew we could help our clients make the shift towards delivering greater impact. Amidst all the disruption from pandemics to AI to ageing populations, we see massive opportunities this decade to reimagine ways of working and build back better and stronger.
Being a force for good is just such the obvious and natural next step in the evolution of business so at the end of
last year it was no surprise to TTC that The Business Roundtable – a think tank comprising of 181 CEOs from America’s largest corporations, employing over 15 million people – redefined the purpose of a corporation as promoting: ‘An Economy That Serves All Stakeholders.’ This made being a force for good mainstream. The businesses, therefore, that miss this trend will be like retailers who missed the shift to online selling, they will be left wondering why they did not see or respond to it. This is where TTC can help.
Our own first foray into the world of doing well by doing good started whilst working for the UK’s most respected retailer. We were working with their marketing leadership team five years ago and we told them the story of Boyan Slat to highlight the importance of making a stand against plastic. “We saw a lot of nodding but not a huge amount of commitment to do anything meaningful which was frustrating,” says Dean. Things went quiet until their competitor Iceland announced its quest to be plastic free by 2023. Soon thereafter we got a call from our client saying they wished they’d heeded our warning, and could we work with them to develop a zero-plastic strategy. We were delighted to help and identified an audacious quest which they have now embarked on. That was then, today TTC has grown into a pioneering consultancy working globally with middle-market and progressive big businesses to be a force for good.
We believe in three things:
- The 2020’s will be a decade of disruption (an Age of Kairos is upon us)
- The best way to predict the future is to create it
- Organisations that are a force for good will be the winners.
Our commitment and passion to partnering with clients to deliver solutions for a troubled world has opened many new doors. We were recently approached by Europe’s largest frozen food manufacturer to help them develop the quests and strategic pathways for their fish and plant-based foods. Our client was already on a journey towards being a force for good, but they wanted TTC to push them well outside of their comfort zone.
Using our 3-E framework we worked with them to firstly Explore their current state of play and identify the disruptive forces shaping their future world. This enables us to collectively articulate the scenarios and potential strategic quests they could embark on.
We then shift gear to the Evaluate phase where using proprietary models we assess potential pathways, innovations and the compatibility of their quests with organisational culture. Nothing kills strategy quicker than not having a supportive culture. This doesn’t mean a natural fit is required – We use quests as a secret ingredient, one which competitors can’t copy because it becomes lived by the people delivering it — but the evaluate phase is important for identifying gaps and potential pitfalls so that when the company embarks on their quest, influencing its culture is a pathway they are focused on too.
We encourage our clients to shift their mindset in four areas:
- You create the future, it does not just happen.
- The 2020s will be a pivotal period in history, a rare moment, where leaders who are tuned towards change can seize opportunity.
- The explorers will be the winners. There are no roadmaps showing us the future. What got you here will not get you there.
- To build a culture of exploration, embark on quests that make a positive difference in the world.
For example Elon Musk / Tesla’s purpose is to free the world of fossil fuel. To inspire his team in achieving this massive purpose he gave them the meaningful quest of building an electric car capable of beating a Ferrari. They did it.
Business leaders who make the shift from quarterly returns towards looking further ahead to focus on long term sustainability and aligning strategy with doing well by doing good, will reap massive rewards. Just Capital, a company that ranks organisations against the issues people care most about has conducted studies revealing that the companies which deliver impact to all stakeholders are outperforming, during the pandemic led downturn, their peers who only focus on shareholder returns; with the top quintile returning 20.7%.
Companies outperforming their peers
Today’s consumers and employees are rewarding businesses who they trusty and believe have their best interests at heart.
For example: Apple, which ranked No. 1 on data privacy collection among the JUST 100, is continuing to link its brand to the issue of privacy protections for customers. The tech giant is up 53.8% this year and its emphasis on customer privacy is an example of why the companies in that top quintile are generating significantly higher returns. Doing well, by doing good movement now has some big-name players. For more inspiration see Fortune Magazine’s Change The World List. The 2020’s will be a decade of disruption, but with progressive leaders figuring out how to optimise business as a force for good, we can turn it into a decade of impact.
The tech giant is up 53.8% this year
We need more explorer organisations like Boyan’s Ocean Cleanup.
The 21st Century company will profit from finding solutions for society’s biggest problems. This is where TTC can help you. We are a consultancy pioneering business as a force for good. By partnering we can explore the new world, evaluate emerging opportunities and embark on the quests that build back a better and stronger future. An exciting future is possible,