Nowadays we are witnessing a new trend within global corporations. Nike, Unilever, Coca Cola and others are collaborating within a network of organizations, across sectors with the same aim in mind: to improve societal well-being while driving economic success.

These companies are integrating Creating Shared Value (CSV) principles into their business strategies and leadership.  Positive societal impact is seen as a strategic driver for a sustainable organizational growth. As a result , these organizations make a long term commitment to support the communities in which they operate. They help improve the quality of life of thousands in need, and at the same time they ensure sustainable growth for their businesses.

As part of our CSV joint research with Manchester Business School, we conducted interviews with senior leaders who have been strategically involved in this topic. We learned that inter-organizational collaborations are crucial for successful execution of societal impact strategies. Networks of organizations have the power to resolve complex societal issues that no single organization can. Those collaborative efforts serve as a mechanism for greater strategic impact on complex societal challenges.

The following three steps will help you and your organization to identify your company’s Societal Impact Network and journey:

Step 1: Examine the societal areas for impact that are relevant to your business.

You can start by asking the following discovery questions:

  • Which are the main societal issues that your business in embedded within?
  • What is the business rationale and purpose for addressing each specific issue?

Step 2: Explore networks of organizations that are working on the societal challenges that effect your business.

Here are some questions to reflect upon:

  • How well-connected is your own organization in the identified inter-organizational network?
  • How can you and your organization use this network to achieve both the goals of your business as well as societal goals?

Step 3: Build a leadership strategy for collaboration with other organizations within the network, in order to achieve collectively a greater societal affect/impact.

Here are some relevant discovery questions:

  • How will you build bridges among potential partners in the network so that you can align your efforts?
  • How can collaborators jointly develop leadership and economic capacity in the communities they serve?

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