Leading Sustainable Organizations
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Many enterprises have employed business models and process frameworks such as
Freemium, razor/razorblade, kaizen, and design thinking to help them cut through complexity and guide decisions by unifying language, clarifying direction, and improving understanding among leaders, teams, and investors.
Sustainable enterprises achieve these same results and more with models and frameworks such as the sharing economy and biomimicry, which are designed to create social, economic, and ecological abundance. The term “abundance” refers to a virtuous cycle of activity that can simultaneously reduce risks, cuts costs, and grow sales by solving social issues, strengthening community, eliminating waste, and restoring the environment. Two emerging abundance tactics among many that show promise (see Figure 1) are regenerative marketing and collaborative exchange.
Regenerative Marketing: Redeploying the 22nd Largest Economy
In 2016, global advertising spending is expected to surpass $570 billion, rivaling the gross domestic product of Sweden — a huge pool of capital that could be used for new, more sustainable outcomes through regenerative marketing activities.
Regenerative marketing throws out mass-media marketing models and replaces them with fresh creative approaches to solve problems. It bolsters brand equity by forging authentic connections with customers and employees, especially the values-driven, ad-skipping millennial generation.
For example, since 2002 outdoor retailer L.L. Bean has contributed $3.25 million to sponsor the free Island Explorer bus system in Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities. During that time, 5 million passengers and 33 million park visitors, young families, and outdoor enthusiasts encountered the branded buses multiple times per day. Through its support, the iconic Maine company reduced vehicle trips in the “Down East” region by 1.9 million, eliminating 26.7 tons of emissions.
Regenerative marketing also works across industries. In lieu of a typical video promoting The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, producer Casey Neistat exemplified the movie’s theme of living your dreams. After a devastating typhoon struck the Philippines, he traveled there and spent his $25,000 budget on humanitarian relief. His promotional video documenting the experience received 1.9 million more YouTube views than the official movie trailer.
Similarly, the University of Technology and Engineering in Lima, Peru received global acclaim for redesigning the advertising medium itself by developing billboards that purify air, produce drinking water, and grow organic produce. In the food service industry, Panera serves 1 million pay-what-you-can meals in their four