Purpose, People, Planet. The new triple bottom line.

The phrase triple bottom line was coined in 1994, those three drivers being people, profit, planet. However, I believe it is now time for new thinking around the drivers of a corporation and removing profit as a source driver. Bold, yes, but please read on.

At the time of writing, there are approaching 500 daily posts on this site, all, directly or eclectically, around the themes of #OpenLeadership, #BeautifulLeadership. These concepts around leadership are invitations, provocations, to lead bravely and differently.

Kate Raworth, in her book Doughnut Economics, suggests ‘seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist’ and has just launched a competition asking ‘What’s the 8th Way to Think Like a 21st Century Economist?’

Today I submit my entry, that we need a new triple bottom line, one that puts Profit as an outcome of focussing on the Source drivers of Purpose, People and Planet, and I will give some proven examples of corporations that successfully have done this, all lifted from articles already written on this site.

So, as I submit this article, I apologise to Kate and the other judges. I am not an academic, I am a highly curious and enquiring business leader turned sounding board, one who voraciously studies economics and leadership.

My references, therefore, are not to a standard of an academic paper, though I hope they suffice to make the point that:

Purpose + People + Planet = Profit

In fact, if I had the ability, I would draw this as a “Righteous Flywheel”, where the unerring focus on Purpose+People+Planet as drivers allows the corporation to make Profits, which mean it can then focus more on Purpose+People+Planet and so make more Profit, and so on in a “virtuous circle”.

To keep this brief, I simply reference a few articles on this site, each of which itself references one or more case studies.

Beautiful Leadership – Purpose and Herb Kelleher – 24 Jan 2019

Beautiful Leadership – Purpose and the Corporation – 23 Jan 2019

Beautiful Leadership – Patagonia’s Righteous Flywheel – 03 Dec 2018

These articles give case studies as proof points of how Profit follows Purpose+People+Planet, how Profit is not the lead driver but follows the focus on thise new triple bottom line.

How do leaders do this in practice? With #OpenLeadership and #BeautifulLeadership. Now that gives you two search terms for this site that each will give you many, many ideas to choose from in your own leadership.


Also published on Medium.

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