I'm Stuart L. Hart, a leading authority on the implications of environment and poverty for business strategy. A few years ago, I defined the concept of sustainable value; my work includes over 70 academic papers and several books.
My blog: Voice of the Planet >>
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My best-selling book, Capitalism at the Crossroads, published in 2005, was selected by Cambridge University as one of the 50 top books on sustainability of all-time; the third edition of the book was published in 2010.
With Ted London, I'm the author of a newly released book entitled Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid.
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Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World won the McKinsey Award for Best Article in the Harvard Business Review for 1997 and helped launch the movement for corporate sustainability.
With C.K. Prahalad, I wrote the pathbreaking article: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid which provided the first articulation of how business could profitably serve the needs of the four billion poor in the developing world.
The Great Leap: Driving Innovation from the Base of the Pyramid
By Stuart L. Hart and Clayton Christensen, Sloan Management Review
A Natural-Resource-Based View of the Firm
By Stuart L. Hart, Academy of Management Review
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I work directly with companies to develop and nurture the capabilities necessary for sustainable enterprise. Specifically, I help businesses develop strategies for sustainable value through:
- strategy retreats and workshops for senior executives
- in-depth consulting engagements focused on sustainable value portfolio management
- seminars and speaking engagements
At the Enterprise for a Sustainable World (ESW) I work with my colleagues and partners because we believe that business is uniquely positioned to take the lead in moving us toward a sustainable world. Through ESW we provide consulting and education that facilitates effective clean technology, base of the pyramid, and green leap initiatives by firms. We focus simultaneously on the development of new strategies (business models, goals, and partnerships) and the removal of internal organizational impediments to change (systems, processes and mindsets) to accelerate “beyond greening” innovation.We also work with companies to develop the necessary skills needed to launch on-the-ground field experiments to incubate and scale the technologies and markets of tomorrow.
Next-Generation Strategy Development
At ESW, we understand that true change comes through action, not just planning and analysis, and we guide companies through the steps needed to effectively embed “beyond greening” sustainability into corporate and competitive strategy.
- Sustainability Strategy Assessment
ESW begins with an assessment of a company’s overall positioning on sustainability, using the Sustainable Value Framework developed by Stuart Hart and his colleagues over the past two decades. Using a combination of interviews, stakeholder mapping and interactive workshops involving functional and business executives, we first inventory a company’s current sustainability “portfolio.” This includes an inventory of the most promising disruptive clean technologies for possible incubation and commercialization. We then work with the leadership team to assess gaps in the company’s sustainability strategy and develop new strategic initiatives, especially those focused on clean technology and BoP. Gaps in knowledge, skill, and capability are noted and appropriate training, education, and capacity-building initiatives are developed.
- BoP Readiness Assessment
Based upon our extensive experience over the past decade in both launching and analyzing BoP ventures, ESW assesses a company’s overall readiness to mount a BoP business development strategy. Through interviews with key executives and staff, we analyze a company’s relevant capabilities, technologies, products, and services and assess their potential to meet the emerging needs of underserved people and communities in geographies relevant to the company. Gaps are noted and appropriate training, education, and capacity-building initiatives are developed.
Organizational Innovation and Change
Getting the strategy right is necessary but not sufficient for the creation of sustainable enterprises. Creating the organizational context necessary for innovation, along with the appropriate systems, culture and mindset are essential to driving strategic change toward sustainability. ESW draws on the extensive experience of its staff and board to bring a wide array of organizational innovation and change tools to ensure the effective implementation of “beyond greening” strategies.
- Survey-Feedback: The Survey of Sustainability (SOS)
To accelerate the change process, it is important to assess where employees and executives stand regarding the integration of sustainability into their thinking. In partnership with Denison Consulting, ESW is developing the “Survey of Sustainability” (SOS): A tool to help companies “take the organizational pulse” related to their corporate sustainability climate. Intended for use by corporate and business leaders, the SOS asks managers and employees to rate their agreement with statements describing the organization’s approach to sustainable business. Survey results and feedback spur discussion, training and development programs and other interventions necessary to motivate corporate change.
- Gaming and Multilogue
ESW uses interactive strategy games to simulate the challenges posed by sustainability to prepare executives and employees for the realities they will face in pursuing “beyond greening” strategies. ESW has developed games and interactive exercises to help companies build a shared understanding of the emerging challenges, thereby facilitating the effective incorporation of sustainability into competitive strategies.
>> Transformation: The Sustainable Enterprise Game
Designed by Stuart Hart and Susan Svoboda of the Realia Group, the Transformation Game enables participants to experience the challenges of pursuing sustainability-based strategies under competitive conditions. In this full-fledged business strategy “laboratory,” individuals take on executive management roles within their companies. Each team defines its own strategy under life-like conditions which include time pressures, budgetary constraints, unpredictable stakeholder interventions, changing market conditions and limited information. The team’s performance (impact on P&L, Balance Sheet and Environmental and Social Reports) is scored and benchmarked against computer-simulated firms. The goal is to shorten the feedback loop and provide reliable results in a “safe” environment prior to firms risking capital on live sustainable enterprise initiatives.
Crossroads: The BoP Game
This strategy game assists corporations in building the internal capabilities required to effectively launch business ventures in Base of the Pyramid environments. The goal is to train a cadre of skilled and motivated members in an organization to become BoP project team members and leaders. ESW is working with Jac Geurts, Twynstra Gudde Management Consultants, Tilburg University, and some of the world’s leading “gamers” to develop the product.
To develop “beyond greening” strategies—and most importantly, the people behind them—organizations need innovative on-the-ground methods to guide the journey into new strategic territory. ESW works with companies to mobilize action projects and business experiments focused on BoP and Green Leap innovation. We help companies launch and manage initiatives that build on their existing strengths, while also providing the structure and space to build new ones. With an array of global partners, we have the unique ability to assemble collaborative, “all-star” teams of key players and contributors to pursue next-generation on-the-ground sustainability initiatives.
- Building Competitive Imagination
New, sustainable businesses are best created through an approach that engages local community members and other “fringe” stakeholders in the development of creative new business concepts. To do so, ESW, with Sanjay Sharma, works with companies to engage stakeholders with diverse perspectives for the purposes of generating “competitive imagination.” This capability reflects the corporation’s ability to:
- Engage in deep dialogue with underserved communities and radically differing perspectives
- Co-develop new business opportunities and models embedded in the local, cultural context
Co-create and launch new businesses and markets that generate mutual value for all partners
- Build a foundation for innovating disruptive, clean technologies
- The Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Co-Creation
ESW has been centrally involved in the development and application of a specific approach to BoP business co-creation premised on generating competitive imagination: The BoP Protocol. The BoP Protocol provides a structured process for enterprise and market co-creation through which companies build grassroots business partnerships with BoP entrepreneurs and communities. By bringing together companies and BoP communities in equitable, mutually beneficial partnerships, the BoP Protocol enables the creation of new businesses, capabilities, and markets that neither set of partners could have developed on their own. For details on the BoP Protocol methodology and its application, see www.bop-protocol.org.
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