Major programmes and B-Corporations share lessons for achieving impact at scale.
The traditional major programmes ‘iron triangle’ of time, cost, and quality transforms into a ‘rubber square’ by the end of this thought-provoking discussion at the intersection of major programmes and impact.
The event is co-hosted by Professor Daniel Armanios, BT Professor and Chair of Major Programme Management, and Professor Marya Besharov, Academic Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. Other panellists are Dr Mary Johnstone-Louis, Senior Fellow in Management Practice in the Skoll Centre and chair of the board for B-Lab UK, and Johnny Murnane, co-founder and Chief Financial and Impact Officer at Lightful, a B-Corporation that makes innovative technology accessible to charities and social enterprises.
B-Corps are for-profit companies that are certified as meeting high standards of social and environmental performance and that fulfil a purpose that goes beyond profit maximisation: the hard boundaries between business and the rest of society are softening and becoming ‘fuzzy’. Comparing and contrasting the experiences and challenges of B-Corps with the changing nature of major programmes yield a range of practical insights, chiefly around managing tensions, leadership, and planning for the future.
- Successfully managing the tensions between profit and purpose involves adopting a ‘paradox mindset’, where you do not try to choose between competing priorities but instead try to do both; you establish ‘guard rails’ to ensure that you keep the balance between priorities; and you practise dynamic decision-making through experimentation and adaptation.
- Leadership in this environment is about creating a safe psychological environment and making space for things to happen. The old command-and-control model is incompatible with experimentation.
- It is also important to move from a planning mindset to a ‘probing’ mindset. Addressing grand challenges in, for example, the environment or health entails programmes so complex they take up to ten years to build – by which time the world you planned for is no longer there. Constantly probing a little way into the future allows for experimentation and continuous adaptation.