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  • Writer's pictureMinna Mustakallio

The power of impact: guiding future business success

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, understanding the consequences of our actions has become paramount. The concept of impact has taken center stage, shaping how companies operate, lead, and succeed. From attracting top talent to securing investments and winning customer loyalty, the impact has become a driving force that cannot be ignored.

In this blog post, we explore how the understanding and communication of impact can transform businesses and pave the way for a sustainable and purpose-driven future.

From purpose to impact: more than optimization

Traditionally, businesses have approached impact by optimizing individual goals. However, the true impact goes beyond mere goal-setting. It examines how an organization influences its environment, including society, climate, biodiversity, and health. By adopting a broader perspective, businesses can evaluate their net effects and steer their operations based on their most significant and observable impacts. Impact becomes a compass for decision-making, shaping the future of the company.

While purpose provides a meaningful direction for an organization, impact offers a lens through which to evaluate external outcomes. Rather than fixating on a single predefined goal, businesses should continuously assess their wider societal and environmental impacts. By allowing observations of the impact to guide decision-making, companies can ensure that their activities align with their purpose while adapting to emerging challenges. Impact challenges the status quo, constantly prompting businesses to update and refine their purpose.

The heart of any business lies in its core operations. If defining an inspiring purpose for these operations becomes challenging, it may be time to consider redirecting the core business towards a new trajectory for the next decade. Embracing impact as a guiding principle compels organizations to evaluate their activities in light of the greater good, positioning them as drivers of positive change and innovation.

The landscape of corporate sustainability efforts is evolving, with biodiversity, DEI, responsible AI, and climate action taking center stage. Companies must navigate the challenges of quantifying and measuring their impact while driving meaningful changes and engaging employees as ambassadors. By addressing these challenges and embracing a comprehensive approach to sustainability, businesses can position themselves as leaders in sustainable practices, contributing to a more inclusive and environmentally conscious future. – State of Impact 2023 report

Stakeholders, including investors, employees, customers, and regulators, are vested in a company's global impact. Investors seek both solid evidence and bold initiatives that demonstrate positive impact. ESG frameworks and sustainability reporting have become prevalent, offering a structured approach to evaluating impact. Meanwhile, employees increasingly seek meaningful work aligned with their values, and customers make purchasing decisions based on a company's environmental and social responsibility.

The evolving landscape of regulations, such as the EU's sustainability taxonomy, emphasizes the need for businesses to navigate the complexities of impact measurement and reporting.

Embracing the power of impact

Businesses must recognize its organization-wide significance to harness the power of impact effectively. The impact is not the responsibility of a single department; it requires the collective effort of the entire leadership team. This paradigm shift will reshape the roles and responsibilities within organizations, influencing how CFOs address profitability, how HR fosters a sense of purpose among employees, and how diverse stakeholders collaborate.

Understanding and managing impact cannot be achieved overnight.

However, even small steps towards exploring impact can yield significant results. Holding workshops and involving external stakeholders can uncover fresh insights and open doors to previously untapped business opportunities. By actively pursuing impact, businesses comprehensively understand their position, competencies, and future potential. Impact-oriented strategies provide a foundation for decision-making and inspire innovation, leading to sustainable business growth.

In the era of impact-driven business, organizations must embrace the transformative power of understanding their effects on society and the environment. By prioritizing impact, businesses can attract top talent, secure investments, and cultivate strong customer loyalty. Impact serves as a compass, guiding strategic decisions and shaping the future of businesses. The journey towards meaningful impact begins with a commitment to understanding and communicating the net effects of business operations. Let us embark on this transformative path together and create a future where success is measured by profit and the positive and lasting change we make in the world.

At Un/known, we believe impact and sustainability should be at the core of every organization's strategy and product development. We offer new perspectives and value definitions, integrating sustainable development metrics into business transformation. Our expertise extends to responsible data usage and the development of algorithmic systems that consider their consequences.

To embark on the journey of impact, businesses need tools and frameworks to navigate the complexity. It starts with a deep dive into understanding the current state of impact within the organization. This can be done through workshops, surveys, and engaging stakeholders to map the areas where the company has the most significant influence.

One powerful tool for this purpose is the ESG framework, which allows businesses to structure their impact considerations by breaking them down into environmental, social, and governance dimensions. Another valuable resource is the Net Impact model developed by the Upright Project, which provides a structured approach to assessing impact and identifying opportunities for improvement.

By investing in impact exploration, businesses gain the insights to align their strategy with their most significant impacts. This process can lead to strategic updates, new collaborations, and the development of innovative business areas that promote sustainability and responsible practices.

As businesses delve deeper into impact-driven strategies, the transformation goes beyond optimizing for profit or customer experience. It becomes a holistic approach, considering the experiences and effects on a wider range of stakeholders. By prioritizing impact, businesses position themselves as reliable and responsible citizens and gain a competitive edge in a world where conscious consumerism is rising.

In conclusion, the power of impact cannot be underestimated.

It drives future business success by shaping strategy, attracting talent, securing investments, and winning customer loyalty. By embracing impact as a guiding principle, businesses pave the way for a sustainable and purpose-driven future. Let us work together to unleash the transformative potential of impact and create a world where business success goes hand in hand with positive change.

Together, we can build a better tomorrow.

Download our State of Impact 2023 report to learn more.

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