In this video interview on Rethinking Capitalism, Michael Porter (of Porter’s Five Forces fame, among other things) shares an interesting take on the new nature of relevance for organizations in society. Porter argues that the old standby “what’s good for business is good for society” that has defined the relationship between U.S. business and society is giving way. He turns this on its head, arguing “what is good for society is good for business.”
For most people in our sector, the traditional capitalist argument probably never held sway. What is really interesting here is Porter’s argument that competitive opportunity will come from rethinking your organization’s relevance and place as a contributor to society. His idea of “shared value” challenges leaders to think about value more broadly, considering both the direct value you create through your activities and the cluster of benefits created (or that could be created) in delivering that service.
While our organizations already have artistic and social missions at their core, there are great questions here to consider. Are we designing programs to maximize the social benefit we create? Are we considering the full cluster of social benefits that we could be creating? Are we using suppliers and every step in the supply chain to create that value? Are we creating new forms of partnerships with corporations who embrace this shared value perspective?