Newsletter, May 2018

Our occasional newsletter is a brief update on how we’ve been creating business value and social value in the worlds of learning & development, corporate responsibility and innovation.

The rise and rise of purpose

Whilst some enlightened types have been arguing for decades that business needs a reason for existence way more compelling than simply creating shareholder value (to use the usual jargon), it seems that this way of thinking is at last threatening to become part of the mainstream. The recent Three Hands Forum on Social Purpose explored what purpose really is and how to enact it through the development of leaders, smart charity partnerships and innovation in products and serves based on real social needs. Read our report here.

Not leaving Millennials to their own devices

Apprentices, graduates and early years groups – millennials that are highly digitally engaged, don’t stick around that long and yet crave wider meaning and purpose – can be hard to engage because, well, of all of the above. Our approach is simple: Get them working on real social impact projects that help them to develop the soft skills that employers so often say they’re lacking.

That’s what we’ve been up to with apprentices and graduates at Sky, setting them business projects all related to Sky’s responsibility programme; Rentokil’s grads, who’ve been honing their communications skills by sharing their graduate programme learning with local school 6th formers; and, again, with the emerging talent pool at Nationwide, who undertake strategy projects with charities as a core part of their development programme.

Check James’ article for more about the thinking behind this approach.

Customer insight and innovation: The value of charities

Q: What does a Howden’s kitchen, a Natwest bank card, the Boots Botanics skincare range and a Legal and General life insurance policy have in common? A: They were all developed and reviewed with expertise and insight from charities. There is huge untapped insight of value to businesses in the charity world – on topics as diverse as why some people just won’t go digital, to customer vulnerabilities based on, for example, age and health. This realisation has inspired us to start helping business to innovate with ‘Social Insight’ – here is Jan’s article that explains more and here’s how it worked when we ran programmes with Santander and Royal London.

A bit of light reading

For those who need to update their reading list on the role of business in society, Tom Levitt’s new book, ‘The Company Citizen: Good for Business, Planet, Nation and Community‘, states what is obvious to many, but by no means all in the business community: companies do not have to choose between being profitable and being responsible. Not only is it possible to do both, in the long term it’s essential. Friends of Three Hands can get a 20% discount using code FLR40 here.

A shorter read from within the Three Hands ranks is Natalie’s report from her 2017 research trip to the US and Colombia, where she looked for innovative examples of business, charities and the public sector working together.

That’s all for now. Please do get in touch to plot work that’s good for business and good for society…

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