“I will take sickness away from among you.” – Exodus 23:25
The triple bottom line, also referred to as the three pillars of sustainability, measures the holistic performance of a corporation over time. It is an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental and financial, also referred to as the three Ps: people, planet and profit.
If the people in corporations are happy, then productivity and quality will be on the increase and the corporations become more competitive and sustainable.
There is an ancient Indian proverb which states: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. And according to Jim Clyburn: “We therefore have a moral responsibility to protect the earth and ensure that our children and grandchildren have a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live.”
If corporations are profitable they will thrive; if profits grow then this is a significant boost to sustainability.
The collective impact of the holistic successful growth of corporations defines sustainable development. On the other hand, if people are not happy, if we do not protect our planet and if corporations are not profitable, this will lead to the total demise of society as we know it.
The growth of Caribbean economies, on average, has been very modest. If allowed to continue, this is a recipe for poverty and unsociable behaviour. We have a problem that can be so devastating that we should spare no expense in fixing the problem. But how?
Let me share an extract from my column of February 27, 2012 entitled “The Spiritual Blanket”: “It (the spiritual blanket) is a virtual creation which exudes a tranquil, serene and idyllic environment and allows one who is spiritually attuned to receive the whispers from God who has overcome the world and brings peace to all mankind. What a wonderful gift, how many of us are tuned in?”
The beauty about the gift of the Spiritual Blanket is that, with one fell swoop, a diet of solutions magically emerges and informs as to the magnitude and direction of our next steps.
I have paid attention to two whispers. First of all, the only way to turn this around is by recruiting and practising good leadership and management of business systems at the business level. In this way, we give ourselves a good chance to achieve sustainable development for all.
Secondly, we must accept that we have a problem and set about solving the problem systematically. The management of business systems (ManOBiz™) matrix, a shepherding tool, is a real solution – www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.
ManOBiz reminds the management team of the importance of many concepts over the five business systems, including: (1) Corporate Governance – start your business with a board meeting to confirm your mission, lay a sound foundation on which to build and finesse the interactive agenda and minutes combination to build efficiency in the conduct of board meetings so that good decisions will be made; hold board meetings monthly to confirm plans for the next month and monitor performance in the previous month; and hold management meetings weekly to sequentially prepare presentations on action items for the next board meeting.
(2) Finance – protect your credit rating by using savings, grants and funds from supportive family/friends in the embryonic stages of your business; use profits, as soon as is practicable, to further capitalize your business; introduce financial partnerships (loans and equity) only when repayment can be justified by investment-led cash flow projections; and promote “shepherding”, a risk mitigation measure, as collateral to secure the investment.
(3) Marketing – sales is the “breath of life” for the business; develop your marketing matrix and mine it with aggressive sales strategies; recognize that customer satisfaction is key to success; monitor your customer growth from prospect to contract and completion diligently; prepare sales forecasts to monitor the potential growth performance; support sales staff with dynamic public relations, including social media marketing strategies.
(4) People – people are our most important resource and they must be developed to the fullest; the objective is to have a highly productive staff by training them well, providing them with appropriate technology and ensuring that their processes are state-of-the-art and efficient; mind-set change must be proactively addressed through the practice of positives affirmations of abundance; personal time (sleep/exercise/work/community service/personal) management is absolutely essential for high productivity; formal and informal study keeps people abreast of the latest information; and succession planning is key to sustainability.
(5) Operations – This is the engine of growth for the company where profits are generated and can be increased by expanding successful profit centres, cost reduction and increased productivity in technical and support processes; carefully delineate process flow for all products and services and present in Gantt charts for easy reference; determine all direct costs and profitability by product or service and carefully compute indirect costs; monitor cash flow projections monthly; annually assess the value of the company through an automated valuation process; produce monthly financial management statements and annual audited statements; and ensure that the company benefits from well administered and appropriate ICT processes.
I was honoured to have been invited to the formal launch of the book titled “Businessman’s Accounting Companion”, written by Bob Gopee and his son Rendra Gopee, last Tuesday at the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) in Port of Spain, Trinidad. This Businessman’s Companion will provide for easy reading as well as serve as a reference tool, as businesses develop.
Let us recognize that our economies are ill, but with God’s grace we can continue to invest in the health of the business so that it may be rehabilitated by a renewed leadership and management approach as well as the diligent application of a systematic evolutionary process to facilitate growth and sustainability.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)