The Planet is Already Part of every Business Model
6. Oktober 2023
I'd like to get rid of the general notion that business is either for profit or for the planet, because it's not true. The planet is already an intrinsic, invisible actor of every business and has been sending bills for some time now. It's just that it is not an intentionally designed part of the business model, and that's what I believe needs to change. Someone else is footing these bills. But for how long?
If we make the planet and society integral parts of our business models, they won't conflict with profitability. This impacts our business models in much more profound ways. It holds the opportunity to transform business models from a short-term race into long-term sustainable impact and growth. When, back in 2011, Patagonia literally asked its customers to "buy less," it was an authentic, counterintuitive move that reinforced Patagonia's identity as a socially and environmentally responsible company. The rest is history.
Steve Blank, Alex Osterwalder, David Bland, and others have already shared insights on the design of mission-driven business models and I believe the planet should be part of every business model. We can't take for granted that someone else is footing the planetary bills forever. Net Positivity is a call for transparency to ensure not only that the planet but also our businesses can sustain long-term. At the moment, many unpaid bills circulate the system, creating unexpected sudden costs for some and long-term damage for others.
The planetary bills that business models silently ignore manifest in ways that are challenging to decipher. When that kids' skiing resort in the Vienna suburbs closed a couple of years ago, the kids of Vienna paid a planetary bill. When an insurance company struggles with a natural disaster, they're paying a planetary bill. When people in the Global South suffer from injustice, falling victim to drought, hunger, and pollution, they are shouldering these planetary bills.
At the end of the day, if profitability conflicts with net positivity, it isn't a natural conflict between making a profit and doing good. It's an alarm bell and a dramatic call for action! It signals that it's high time for the business model to change because it's no longer covering the planetary bills.
Legislative pressures are increasing though, and soon, these bills may land on the desks of those responsible. That’s why it's crucial to start innovating with the planet in focus right now. Is your business model fit for a net positive economy?