Social value: doing good and doing well

This, my first blog, aims to invite discussion and, in good time, offer fresh insights into Social Value: its contribution to ‘good’ in society and, here’s the challenge, the creation of competitive advantage for business and mission fulfilment for public and third sector organisations. A modest ambition? It’s doable.

We know what business can do to enhance social value; things like giving employment opportunities to marginalised groups, supporting communities and carers and interventions to protect the environment. They can also help to eradicate modern slavery and ensure that they only contract with other organisations who themselves seek to develop social as well as financial value.

But how can the social impact of these contributions be measured and made to create competitive advantage? How can business and public/third sector organisations ‘do good’ and ‘do well’ financially?

Here’s the news. Social value, the impact it has on target populations, can be measured and by the application of existing tools and methodologies which are not costly to apply. If you can measure it you can put a value to it. You can then enhance that value (doing more good) and you can leverage that value (doing well or better financially).

Applying the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 public bodies can and do apply a weighting to ‘contribution to social value’ in awarding tenders. That weighting might be decisive in determining outcomes but is too often given scant consideration. Public bodies often content themselves with reviewing tendering company’s mission statements and, frankly, often spurious claims regarding their contribution to social value let alone its real social impact.

It does not have to be that way. We can measure social impact, well meaning public bodies can award tenders accordingly (often there is so little to choose between tenders), companies can learn how to measure and thus enhance social value and, consequently, improve their chances of success. They then gain competitive advantage, public bodies fulfil their mission, social impact s enhanced. As a meerkat might say: simple!

Colleagues and I are hoping to develop a robust, on line, course, externally recognised, which takes interested parties through the process of understand, measuring and utilising social value an social impact for competitive advantage. I keep telling myself that it’s a wholly worthwhile pursuit for this newly ‘retired’ business school Dean.

Going further, if we can measure social value, we can transact it using Blockchain. This will take social value out of the soft Social Innovation space and into the hard transactional space of Financial Innovation – allowing social value to be mainstreamed and not a bolt on.