From Different Languages…
A CFO, a COO and a CSO walk into a meeting. Sounds like the lead-in for a joke. But it’s not. These three people need to talk about how to solve a problem faced by their organization. It quickly becomes clear that they are talking different languages:
- The CFO asserts that the company can’t exist without financial viability. They talk about money: the chart of accounts, costs, accounting standards, balance sheets and income statements
- The COO asserts that the company can’t exist without meeting the needs of its customers. They talk about execution: KPIs, resourcing, quality, systems, processes and people
- The CSO asserts that the company can’t ignore the needs and changing risk profiles of stakeholders and the environment. They talk about externalities: environmental and social impacts, and reporting frameworks like GRI and SASB
The CFO, COO, CSO and leaders of many other silos within organizations are all talking about the same company. They are all working hard. But they are all doing different work and creating different value. Each is valid but incomplete. How can they get on the same page and speak a shared value language?
…to a Common Language
The common language they all speak is value. Each person’s team uses and creates different kinds of value for their company, its stakeholders and environment. The key is helping everyone explicitly identify the kinds of value they are supposed to create (and for whom), how to measure that value and how the value they create is going to move the needle to preserve and grow for the overall system.
To speak value, you need to have a shared, systems view of value creation in your organization. Ideally, you’ll want to:
- Define the kinds of value your company uses and creates (we recommend using a multi-capital model)
- Map how each priority team creates that value
- Use a systems map to see and manage how the work of all the teams is connected
The urgency of speaking a common language is increasing steadily. The question is no longer whether sustainability is important, it’s how can sustainability be integrated into daily decisions you make in your company?
Want to learn more how to speak a common language of value in your organization? Download our Insights7 platform one sheet. Or set up a call. Either way, we look forward to finding ways to speak value together!