Stakeholder Capitalism, Impact-Driven Category Design, and Dr. Jane Goodall

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall. Just typing her name gives me goosebumps. What a life of purpose and impact. I can only aspire to be one-tenth of the individual she is. A superhero. An impact-driven category designer.

Her work with chimpanzees through the Jane Goodall Foundation has impacted the community, the animals, and the planet.

And much more.

Floatjon, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons — https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jane_Goodall_GM.JPG

Jane started off wanting to save the chimps Gombe National Park. But through that journey, she soon discovered how connected we all are. In order to save the chimps, habitat and environmental destruction had to stop. To stop environmental destruction the people living in these African communities needed a sustainable source of income. She realized she needs to turn this wicked cycle into a virtuous one. We are all inter-connected. In a recent interview on BBC Travel, Dr. Goodall said:

“If we don’t do something to help the people find an alternative way of living without destroying the environment, then we can’t save chimps, forests, or anything else.”

Dr. Goodall set up the Tacare program in 1994. Through education, micro-credit, and technology, the Tacare program was able to help the villagers realize for themselves the impact of saving the environment.

In addition, Dr. Goodall also changed her individual behavior for the greater good. She became a vegetarian and then a vegan. She advocates for a flexitarian diet not just to end animal cruelty but to also save the planet. I wrote about the power of the individual to impact the collective in a previous post. Dr. Goodall is leading by example.

There is a huge lesson here for category creators. We create categories with such a human and functional lens. Whilst humans may bring market share, we fail to take into account that eventually, categories affect the entire ecosystem of the planet.

I have written at length in the past few posts on the need for the 4th element of category design — impact design. But what I couldn’t “crack” was how do we involve all of the ecosystem stakeholders?

In a 2011 article on HBR, by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer, they wrote about “creating shared value” and reinventing capitalism.

They defined shared value as:

The concept of shared value can be defined as policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress.

They went on to discuss how shared value can be created, and how organizations need to “blur the profit/non-profit boundary”.

They also speak about the connection between competitive advantage and social issues, and the role of social entrepreneurs.

Source — https://www.hbs.edu/ris/Publication%20Files/20160324-HBS%20Lecture%20of%20a%20Lifetime%20-%20CSV%20Presentation%20-%20FINAL_04f63861-bf94-442f-861c-b9227b8f0c90.pdf

But how do we ensure that all stakeholders are addressed? How do we give a voice to the voiceless? The animals, trees, other species, and THE PLANET.

Marc Benioff, Chairman, and co-CEO of Salesforce (a category creator and leader) recently said:

“ Capitalism, as we know, it is dead. We’re going to see a new kind of capitalism — and it won’t be the Milton Friedman capitalism, that is just about making money. The new capitalism is that businesses are here to serve their shareholders, but also their stakeholders — employees, customers, public schools, homeless and the planet.” Source — https://www.investopedia.com/stakeholder-capitalism-4774323

But how do we give the planet a seat at the table? How do we impactfully ensure that the needs of the planet are addressed objectively?

Is it time to start creating independent impact boards that give purpose-driven activist organizations like PETA, Greenpeace, The Jane Goodall Institute, or category relevant organizations a seat at the table? This will help us gain a greater understanding of the interlinkages between communities, animals, and the planet from the outset.

In theory, having an impact board as an independent stakeholder would ensure we stay true to the North Star of our impact-driven category design. It could also ensure that we create true “shared value” for all stakeholders including the planet. It's definitely an idea that I hope to explore in some depth in future posts.

Impact-Driven Category Designer | Working group member Wicked 7