The Power of HeForShe Advocates

In this Random Thoughts post, we examine the role HeForShe advocates can play in advancing gender equality and creating a more equitable world. My cofounder Kem Ellis and I are proud to call ourselves feminists and HeForShe advocates. We have been influenced over the past decade by our daughter Sarah and other powerful women we know as well as the work of UN Women and their HeForShe Challenge and Campaign.

This inspiring TED Talks presentation by Ms. Elizabeth Nyamayaro will help you to understand the philosophy and approach of the HeForShe Campaign that UN Women kicked off in fall 2014. It’s called “An Invitation to Men Who Want a Better World for Women.” Ms. Nyamayaro leads the HeForShe Campaign organization for UN Women, a directorate of the United Nations.

You can learn more about the HeForShe Challenge and Campaign at this link. Please encourage the men you know to sign up, take the HeForShe pledge, and take action to promote gender equality. Better yet, encourage your workplace to become HeForShe advocates and not only promote gender equality, but take measurable steps to ensure gender parity at all levels of the organization.

Now, I realize this is easier said than done. However, there are ten progressive corporations with a total of one million employees starting to “walk the talk.” You can learn about these ten enterprises and their approach to putting HeForShe into action within their organizations by downloading the 2016 HeForShe Corporate Parity Report.

There is a treasure trove of information in this report about gender equality and the opportunity for improvement within business enterprises of all sizes and types. The report also features ten corporate CEO’s who are leading the way to a more inclusive and gender equal world. The ten CEO’s and their corporations are:

  • Sebastien Bazin, Chair & CEO of AccorHotels
  • Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays
  • Mustafa V. Koc, Chair of Koc Holding
  • Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
  • Dennis Nally, Chair of PriceWaterhouseCoopers International Ltd
  • Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chair & CEO of Schneider Electric
  • Rick Goings, Chair & CEO of Tupperware Brands
  • Adam Bain, COO of Twitter
  • Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever
  • Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone Group PLC

This report was written after the first year of HeForShe Campaign implementation, so the inclusion metrics are not current (you can find updated reports on the HeForShe website). What is important to take-away from this report is the following:

  1. The sense of urgency communicated by UN Women, the United Nations, and these ten CEOs. For example, Paul Polman’s statement is right on the mark: “On current trends it will be 2096 before women have the same economic opportunities as men. This is simply too slow. The advancement of women’s rights and their economic inclusion is a business priority.”
  2. The commitment to transparency in reporting the percentage of women represented in four key areas: overall company, top six percent of roles across the enterprise, Board members, and new hires.
  3. The strategic prioritization of investments/initiatives within their enterprises to put the HeForShe Challenge and Campaign into action.

Are these organizations and their approach to gender parity and equality perfect? No. Will they falter and experience setbacks along the way? Yes, of course. However, these ten large corporations and their CEOs are taking a stand to move the needle on gender equality over the next five years.

How about you? What is your take-away from this report and what will you and/or your enterprise do to stand up for gender equality and equal rights for women and girls in your community or geographic region? And for the men who are reading this post, we encourage you to become a HeForShe advocate and take action to make a difference for women.


Key Design Features of Business Impact Accelerator©

Required Books

Five books are utilized extensively throughout the six learning modules of Business Impact Accelerator©. Click on this link to view the books.

Activities and Content

There are a total of 24 activities in the six modules of Business Impact Accelerator©. Each of the activities are designed to accelerate your learning.

There are a total of 48 outcomes or deliverables in Business Impact Accelerator©. These outcomes will help you raise flexible revenue-based growth capital, scale the positive impact of your business or social enterprise, and/or make profitable revenue-based investments.

Featured B Corporations

A total of 48 Certified B Corporations are featured in the Business Impact Accelerator© learning program. Click on the link to see these business and social enterprises that create enduring social and economic value.


Welcome to our website. We’re on a mission to improve the health, wealth, and wellbeing of women and we need your help.

We recently launched a free education and learning platform called WIIN (Women’s Impact Investing Network). This platform is part of our direct charitable activities strategy to help close the gender wealth gaps and create a more equitable world. The WIIN Learning Platform provides a suite of programs to help women and HeForShe advocates do the following:

  • Learn about revenue-based finance and raise flexible growth capital or make revenue-sharing investments in enterprises that positively impact women.
  • Strategically build and scale business or social enterprises dedicated to sustainable impact.
  • Protect organizational health in response to risk and threats created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please take time to look through this website. You’ll be impressed with the depth and breadth of information, support tools, and coaching support available for free.

We are looking for entrepreneurs, business owners, business coaches, consultants, funders, and investors interested in (1) growing or investing in impact-driven enterprises or (2) becoming pro bono coaches and starting local WIIN Chapters. If you’re interested (or know anyone who might be interested) and would like more information, please contact me.

Together, let’s close the gender wealth gaps!

Best Regards,

Mark Livingston


The Social Impact Foundation

Startup Guide

Use this Startup Guide to access the right learning content so you can:

  • Protect your organization’s health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Learn about revenue-based finance and our 3X-in-10™ Revenue Sharing Model.
  • Build and scale a sustainable, high-impact business or social enterprise.
  • Raise flexible revenue-based growth capital on a crowdfund investment platform and attract the right investors.
  • Find investment-ready enterprises that generate sustainable 10X impact.
  • Become a pro bono coach and start a local WIIN Chapter.

Business Model Canvas Ideation

A Process for Generating New Business Model Ideas

As a result of Covid-19 and new physical distancing requirements, many women and HeForShe advocates who own or lead business and social enterprises have seen this image flash in front of their eyes:

Is this a picture of the future you’ve seen recently? If so, a design tool called the Business Model Canvas and an innovation process called Business Model Canvas Ideation might be of interest.

Use this guide (written in the form of a S.M.A.R.T. job aid) to identify new business models with potential to restore or increase revenue streams and protect organizational health and wellbeing.

S.M.A.R.T. Job Aid


Use the Business Model Canvas tool and Business Model Canvas Ideation process whenever you and your team need to discover innovative ways to improve business results and/or create new revenue streams.


You will need to visit these websites and access their free tools and resources:

Organizations/WebsitesFree Tools/Resources
Design a Better Business
Business Model Canvas, Business Model Ideation, and more
Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Basics, and more
WRKSHP (www.wrkshp.tools)Business Model Patterns (pdf and online version)
Medium (www.medium.com)Hack Your Business Model Ideation
The Social Impact Foundation
WIIN Learning Platform, Community Forums, and more

These five actions will help you and and your team learn about the the Business Model Canvas and put the Business Model Canvas Ideation process into action.

Step #1: Become familiar with the Business Model and Value Proposition Canvases from Strategyzer.

  • Go to the Strategyzer website and create a free account.
  • Navigate to the Training/Free Training section and find the Business Model Basics course. This informative nine-part series will take one hour to complete.
  • As you go through the nine videos, navigate to the Resources/Tools section of the site. Download and print a copy of the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas. Be sure to examine and bookmark other resources and tools for future use.
  • Signup for the free blog and stay up-to-speed on new books, courses, and content from the team at Strategyzer.

Step #2: Use the Business Model Canvas to sketch the current model of your enterprise as well as the business models of 2-3 competitors.

  • Go to the Design a Better Business website and examine all of the free tools available on this innovation platform.
  • Navigate to Understand/Business Model Canvas and download the directions for conducting a business model mapping exercise with 3-5 members of your team.
  • Rank the performance of each business model you sketch using the seven Checklist questions provided in the directions. These are the same questions presented in the third video of the Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer.
  • Remember to stay focused on your current business model. You will have an opportunity to identify opportunities for improvement in steps 4 and 5 of this process.

Step #3: Assemble a diverse team and prepare for the Business Model Canvas Ideation process.

  • Business model ideation and innovation can take many different forms. In the Business Model Generation book from Strategyzer (pages 142-143), you are provided with five questions to consider, along with a checklist of characteristics for assembling a diverse team of innovative thinkers:
  1. Is our team sufficiently diverse to generate fresh business model ideas? Strategyzer recommends women and men from different departments or functions, of various ages and expertise, and with different levels of seniority and cultural backgrounds.
  2. Which elements of the Business Model Canvas must we study or research before generating business model ideas?
  3. What innovations can we imagine for each building block of the Business Model Canvas?
  4. What criteria will be most important for prioritizing our business model ideas?
  5. What does the complete business model for each shortlisted idea look like?
  • Once membership is confirmed, ask each team member to read a short article on Medium and review a pdf from one of the designers of the Design a Better Business book (Erik van der Pluijm). In addition, be sure all innovation team members have reviewed the free Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer.
    • The article is titled Hack Your Business Model Ideation.
    • The free download from Mr. Pluijm’s website is called Business Model Patterns (there are 100 patterns presented in a pdf or online format).
    • The 1-hour Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer will bring new innovation team members up-to-speed.

Step #4: Use the Business Model Canvas to generate new ideas and prototypes for your business or social enterprise.

  • Go back to the Design A Better Business website and navigate to Ideate/Business Model Ideation.
  • Download and print the directions for this process and use them to generate possibilities and options for your organization.
  • There are four innovation processes outlined in Business Model Ideation. You can choose to use one or all four of these options. They are:
    • Freshwatching
    • Remove the Core
    • Epicenters
    • Follow Patterns
  • The last paragraph in the directions for this process discusses the use of “what if” questions. Alex Osterwalder of Strategyzer addresses the power of “what if” questions on page 140 of Business Model Generation:

“We often have trouble conceiving innovative business models because we are held back in our thinking by the status quo. “What if” questions help us break free from constraints imposed by current models.”

Step #5: Complete the Business Model Canvas Ideation process and challenge your innovation team to come up with six new business models in the next 30 days.

  • Identify the best business model with the most potential to address issues and concerns facing your enterprise.
  • Create an action plan for testing and validating the building blocks of this high-potential business model . Your validation plan should include:
    • Creating a value proposition canvas (start by identifying the priority jobs, pains, and gains of your customers or customer segment).
    • Design of “cheap and fast” experiments to test desirability, feasibility, and viability of your business model and value proposition (reference the Testing Business Ideas book cited on the second page of this guide).
    • Experiments, according to the authors of Testing Business Ideas, are “the means to reduce risk and uncertainty of your business idea.”


The primary result of the Business Model Canvas Ideation process is generation of six new business models for your enterprise within 30 days.

Total Quality Check:

Your work is done as expected when:

  • A diverse business model innovation team has been formed
  • Each member of the innovation team has completed the Business Model Basics course from Strategyzer
  • A business model canvas has been developed for your enterprise
  • Six new business models have been generated
  • A plan for testing the one best business model with the most potential has been created

If you have any questions about the Business Model Canvas Ideation process, please contact Mark Livingston. You can also post a question on the 10X Impact Community Forum (registration is required for this opt-in forum).

Go to the next page for resources and tools related to the subject of business model innovation. We also provide links to specific areas of the WIIN Learning Platform which dive deeper into this subject. As well, we share the Business Model and Value Proposition Canvases of The Social Impact Foundation.

Customer Touch-point Mapping Template

Use this blank Touch-point Map template to design (or redesign) memorable experiences for customers served by your business or social enterprise. The template can also be used with employees, suppliers, partners, and other key stakeholders.

Here is an example of a Customer Touch-point Map developed and utilized by a major library system on the east coast of the U.S. during the last “great recession” over a decade ago. The business research team of this community-focused library found itself overwhelmed by requests for service from struggling businesses in the city and region.

The template and process is also referenced in these sections of the WIIN Learning Platform:

Estimated Cost of Raising Revenue-Based Growth Capital

Selling a share of revenue is less expensive than selling a share of equity (or ownership). The high cost of raising capital through an equity sale is due to the complex legal agreement. With a straightforward Revenue-Sharing Offer, your business or social enterprise eliminates the legal expenses related to negotiating these terms (among many):

  • Pre- and post-money valuation
  • Approval, anti-dilution and conversion rights
  • Board representation and voting rights
  • Staged capital commitments
  • Positive and negative covenants
  • Redemption and tag-along rights and warranties, etc., etc., etc.

Plus, you stay in control of your enterprise and your financial destiny. In Gender Wealth Strategy, we describe this as “build-to-keep” versus “build-to-flip.” The WIIN Learning Platform supports owners and entrepreneurs aiming to scale their positive impact, build a sustainable, high-impact enterprise, and create enduring social and economic value. That’s a “build-to-keep” strategy and it’s one that will create the lasting impact needed to close the gender wealth gaps women experience around the world.

Still, getting ready for revenue-based growth capital investment requires a commitment of time, money, and people. We designed the Business Impact Accelerator platform to guide you step-by-step through the process of making sure your enterprise is ready for investment and ready to deliver sustainable results for all stakeholders (including investors).

Time Estimates

We estimate it will take you and your team anywhere from 2–12 months to work through the relevant sections of Modules 1–5 of Business Impact Accelerator© (depending on the work you’ve already completed and how many hours per week you have available). Modules 1–2 focus on designing and validating a sustainable, profitable, and impact-driven business model. Module 3 focuses on developing a high-quality Sustainable 10X Impact Business Plan and five-year pro forma financial forecast. You will use portions of Modules 4-5 during this time, but these become more relevant after you begin your ten-year journey of sustainable growth, change, and transformation.

Module 6 focuses on completing all of the activities required to pass our Investment Readiness Check, advertise your Revenue Sharing Offer to members of the 10X Impact Forum, and launch a winning 3X-in-10™ Growth Capital Campaign on your funding platform-of-choice.

We estimate it will take you and your team 4–8 hours per week to complete the individual and group activities outlined in Business Impact Accelerator (subject to the same provisions mentioned previously). Review the Quick Start Action Plan to complete Module 1 of Business Impact Accelerator in eight weeks or less.

Budget Estimates

We estimate you will need to budget $8,500-$10,000 in order to become “investment ready” and meet all legal and regulatory requirements for raising flexible revenue-based capital through one of the crowdfund investment platforms (or funding portals) that accept revenue sharing offers (not all do).

Our budget estimate is broken down into these three areas:

  1. Books, articles and reference materials: $75–$90 for each team member participating in Business Impact Accelerator (review Key Design Features in the BIA Library for the five books you will need to purchase).
  2. Verified Check Report from CrowdCheck: $5,000 (this includes due diligence background checks on principals and officers, legal review of governance documents, 3X-in-10™ Revenue Sharing Offer documents, and development/submittal of the SEC Form C disclosure).
  3. CPA review or audit of financial statements: $2,500–$4,000+ (depending on geographic location and quality of financial records; double this estimate if a formal audit is needed or chosen).

As discussed in Module 3 of Business Impact Accelerator, you will have the option to include capital raising and funding portal costs in your growth capital budget and 3X-in-10™ Revenue Sharing Offer (funding portal costs are not included in the above estimates).

You will need to be transparent with women and HeForShe investors and explain these expenses in your Sustainable 10X Impact Business Plan. However, we think these patient and mission-aligned investors will find this part of the growth capital budget an acceptable price for helping your enterprise to achieve sustainable growth and create enduring social and economic value that positively impacts women.

Leading and Managing Change

In this Random Thoughts post, I want to present a topic related to Week 1 of the Quick Start Action Plan. The objective for Week 1 is to “complete the Change Accelerator Project Dashboard in the Module 5 Activity titled Increase Change Management Capability.”

 Do You and Your Team Know How to Lead and Manage Change?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into business and social enterprises over the last forty years where senior managers had spent virtually no time in preparing to lead their organizations through change. Yes, they may have created comprehensive project management plans with gantt charts, etc. But in the vast majority of cases, none of these plans addressed the “human side of change.” That is, there had been little thinking about how project and management teams would address key issues like “making the case for change” or “communicating the future vision” or  “managing resistance and conflict.”

It’s no wonder the vast majority of strategic initiatives do not deliver sustainable results. As reported in Gender Wealth Strategy Key Finding #8:

  • “44% of strategic initiatives did not succeed in the last three years.” (Project Management Institute, 2013).
  • “60-80% of businesses fall short of the targets identified in their strategic plans.” (Kaplan and Norton, 2008).
  • “Only 8% of large companies were able to deliver sustained organic growth of 5% or more over a ten-year period.” (Bain and Company, 2012).

This is the reason why I approached Jesse Jacoby, Managing Principal and Founder of Emergent Consultants, in 2016 about his Change Accelerator© change management platform.

The Change Accelerator© platform is the best I’ve seen since my days as a graduate student in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Organization Development (MOD) programs at Bowling Green State University. In particular, I’d like to call your attention to the ACT™ Model section of the Change Accelerator website.

The Accelerating Change and Transformation Model is conceptually sound and practical. It’s a model refined and honed through 25+ years of real-world application in large corporations and mid-size enterprises across the U.S. Both the model and platform meet my requirements for a well-designed solution and tool. As you know from the Whose Needs Come First? section of Gender Wealth Strategy, I use the What, Why, How, and How Well criteria to design effective and sustainable solutions.

The ACT Model answers these design criteria in an exemplary manner:

  • 6 Activity Checklists with a total of 60 performance expectations or tasks (addressing the “what” of change leadership and management)
  • 68 Tools spanning all six phases of the ACT Model (addressing the “how” of change leadership and management)
  • 6 Phase Health Checks with a total of 49 performance standards (addressing the “how well” of change leadership and management)

Of course, the “why” for using the ACT Model and Change Accelerator platform is built into the primary objective of Business Impact Accelerator©: to build a sustainable and high-impact enterprise that creates enduring social and economic value.

I recommend you and your team spend time to review the 6 Activity Checklists and 6 Phase Health Checks in Change Accelerator during the first two weeks of the Quick Start Action Plan. Make copies of these Checks in order to examine the “what” and “how well” of effective change management and leadership. As 50% of performance issues in organizations are created by unclear expectations and standards, these two checklists will enable you and your team to become “change masters” and navigate your enterprise through the trials and tribulations of organizational change, growth, and transformation.

In addition, I recommend downloading the Change Accelerator tool titled Change Management Overview Presentation. It’s a customizable presentation you can use with your team and staff to start the conversation about what it will take to lead, manage, and accelerate change across your organization. Note the slide titled Formula for Change Management Success (slide #6). Here’s a pdf of the presentation that Jesse Jacoby can help you customize:

Successfully leading and managing change is never easy. There will be constant challenges and issues to address during your journey toward sustainable growth and impact. However, the ACT Model and Change Accelerator Toolkit will make this long-term process much easier. Ultimately, your stakeholders and investors (if you’re planning to raise revenue-based growth capital on a crowdfund investment platform) will be happy and pleased!

Half the Sky, Half the Wealth

In this Random Thoughts post, we focus on using a gender lens to (1) make profitable and sustainable investments in woman-owned enterprises or (2) develop new business growth opportunities that positively impact women. In case you’re not familiar with the term, gender lens investing is defined as the practice of investing for financial return while also considering the benefits to and impact on women. It is closely aligned with the developing fields of impact investment and positive impact.

 “Women carry half the sky, we should make sure women own half the world.” (Ingrid Stange, Partnership for Change)

Wikipedia describes gender lens investing as a form of investment which “can include funding women-owned businesses, businesses with a strong track record of employing women, or companies that improve the lives of women and girls with their products and services.” A 2017 book titled Gender Lens Investing: Uncovering Opportunities for Growth, Returns, and Impact makes a solid case for investing in woman-owned businesses or developing new business growth opportunities that positively impact women. And, a recent article in Medium titled Forget China or India, Women Will be the Most Disruptive Economic Force of the 21st Century makes a similar argument.

There is a sentence in the Gender Lens Investing book (among many) that clearly explains the rationale for looking at women as key drivers of business and economic growth:

“An economy not fully deploying its human capital–both men and women–is an economy operating below capacity, inhibiting its ability to compete, drive growth, spark innovation, reduce poverty, and increase equality.”

Listen to this Knowledge at Wharton interview with Jackie VanderBrug, one of the co-authors of Gender Lens Investing, discussing the benefits of using a gender lens to build a sustainable, high-impact enterprise or investment portfolio. Note the research Ms. VanderBrug cites about the values of millennial and impact-driven investors.

My cofounder Kem Ellis and I could not agree more with the insightful analysis provided by Ms. VanderBrug and Joseph Quinlan, her co-author and colleague at U.S. Trust (a division of Bank of America).

However, I believe Ingrid Stange, Board Chair of Partnership for Change, goes straight to the heart of the gender wealth problem with her quote underneath the image at the front of this blog post: “women carry half the sky, we should make sure women own half the world.” Partnership for Change is a Norwegian NGO (non-governmental organization) that works to secure economic independence for women and youth with projects in Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Norway.

During my forty year career as a strategic transformation and change consultant, I often had to call out the “800-pound gorilla” in the room when leadership, management, or work teams refused to talk about real issues or address root causes of problems. Ms. Stange has done this by putting the issue of gender wealth and equity squarely on the table in front of us. Is this not the 800-pound gorilla in the room? Is this not what our biased and broken system of finance and investment has prevented women from achieving over the years?

At The Social Impact Foundation, we firmly believe that sustainable solutions to our most pressing social, economic, and environmental problems will only emerge when women are treated equitably and given every opportunity at all levels of society to succeed in their personal and professional lives. And this means having opportunities to acquire and own the financial and non-financial assets that males (especially white males) have been privileged to enjoy.

So, are you interested in growing your business and/or retirement portfolio? Or, making the world a better place for everyone? Then, you might be ready to adopt a gender lens and respond to the challenge provided by Ms. Stange. Let’s be honest, is there any reason why women should not own half the world and half the wealth?

A Genuine Sense of Urgency

In this Random Thoughts post, we examine work you and your team need to accomplish in order to create a genuine sense of urgency for change in your organization. After the initial assessment phase, it is often the case leadership or design teams will begin to ask questions about “next steps.” They have a sense the process is about to shift from straightforward analysis to more complex decision making about the organization’s future.

As a former business transformation consultant, this is is the point where I had to share three inconvenient truths with many leadership or design teams. First, I had to tell them that no one in their organization cares as much about this work as they do. Second, I had to remind them that employees and other key stakeholders (e.g., corporate executives or owners) may not agree with their assessment results and in fact, may have a vested interest in ignoring problems (hard to believe I know). Third, I had to challenge them to “step up” and accept the job of helping others navigate through the difficult process of letting go and embracing a new path or course of action.

Click on image to enlarge.

To drive home these points, I often used the famous quote from American humorist Will Rogers: “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Other times, when concerns about resistance to change surface, I use the boiling frog story (also known as the Boiling Frog Syndrome):

“If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will jump out. But if you place a frog into a pot of cold water, and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor. Before too long, with a smile on its’s face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”

At times, team members would ask me if I thought their enterprise was at the boiling frog stage. I typically avoided a yes or no response and instead offered: “maybe, maybe not … what do you think?” And that lead to important dialogue and conversation about the depth and breadth of change needed to resolve current issues and level of commitment to work through any and all challenges.

One resource I wish had been available to me during my first career as a management and business consultant is the Change Accelerator© platform from Emergent Consultants of Denver, Colorado and its toolkit of 60+ change management tools. In particular, both the Health Check and Activity Checklist related to Create Urgency, the second phase of the Accelerating Change and Transformation (ACT™) Model, would have been very helpful during this stage of the process.

In the Create Urgency Health Check, there are seven areas which describe competent performance in this area of the ACT™ change management model:

  1. We have gathered specific data that demonstrates the need for change.
  2. We have linked the need for change to the company’s ability to compete.
  3. We have framed the need for change as some combination of threats and opportunities, and sorted them into the short-term and long-term.
  4. We have provided a credible assessment of the likely consequences (business results) if we do not make this change successfully.
  5. We have defined the likely benefits (business results) of effective implementation of this initiative for the organization, units, and individuals.
  6. The team responsible for making this change happen is aligned around the need for this change and feels a genuine sense of urgency.
  7. Key stakeholders outside of our group/unit/organization understand the reasons this initiative is critical; and feel a sense of urgency.

I think statements #3 and #6 in this Health Check are important for you and your team to consider. Item #3 often is a great way to externalize the need for change and sidestep (for the time being) sensitive social and political issues that could derail a young change management process. A tool called Threat-Opportunity Matrix in the Change Accelerator Toolkit is an excellent way to develop a compelling “case for change.”

Item #6 is the second statement in the Create Urgency Health Check I would ensure is present for every member of your immediate team. The words aligned and genuine are important indicators for knowing if you are ready to engage other team or organizational members in the business transformation process. Without alignment and a genuine sense of urgency, you could mistakenly proceed ahead thinking team members “have your back” and are supportive of change (when they aren’t).

These tools from Change Accelerator© will help you implement the Principle of Involvement (people support what they help create) and enable your enterprise to successfully navigate these first stages of organization change, growth, and transformation.

How Do You Positively Impact Women?

In this Random Thoughts post, I’d like to preview one of the activities you will complete in the Business Impact Accelerator© learning program. This activity–Examine Business Model–is found in Module One. In Examine Business Model, you and your team will create a Business Model SWOT Diagram and a Business Model Environment Map. Both deliverables are referenced in Business Model Generation, one of the five core books used in Business Impact Accelerator.

There is also another book listed in the Recommended Resources section of this activity that is relevant to the assessment of your current business model and business impact. This book is Gender Lens Investing: Uncovering Opportunities for Growth, Returns, and Impact. Its co-authors are Jackie VanderBrug and Joseph Quinlan, who work for U.S. Trust, a division of Bank of America.

Gender Lens Investing is relevant not only for this particular activity, but also for other activities you and your team will be completing in Module Two of Business Impact Accelerator©, including Envision Sustainable 10X Impact and Design/Validate a Sustainable 10X Impact Business Model. It’s also relevant because of these questions posed in the Sustainable 10X Impact Business Plan Checklist (this Checklist is referenced and reinforced throughout the entire program):

  1. How does your business model canvas create enduring social and economic value?
  2. How will it positively impact women?

This second question is the focus of today’s post. It’s a simple question, but one with big implications for your business or social enterprise. This is because the question requires you and your team to put on gender lens “glasses” as you develop a Business Model SWOT Diagram.

Why is this important? Well, Gender Lens Investing makes the case that women are “drivers of future growth” for economies around the world and for enterprises searching for profitable and sustainable growth. Watch this video to learn more about adopting a “gender lens focus.” It features Ms. Jackie VanderBrug, one of the book’s co-authors:

You and your team can apply the ideas presented by Ms. VanderBrug by putting on your gender lens glasses while answering the SWOT assessment questions outlined on pages 217–223 of Business Model Generation. These are the assessment questions you will be using to create a Business Model SWOT Diagram.

As you work through questions in the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats quadrants of the SWOT Diagram, think about the impact your enterprise is generating in the lives of women you serve, or partner with in your supply chain, as well as employ throughout your organization. Is your enterprise unleashing their full potential and talents? Are there opportunities for improvement? Can you create a competitive advantage or develop a new business opportunity resulting in a stronger, more profitable, and sustainable business model and enterprise?

In regards to the Business Model Environment Map, go back to the 5:49–7:40 section of the interview with Ms. VanderBrug. Here, she cites research describing some of the core values of women and men who form the millennial generation. As you and your team review Key Trends, Market Forces, Macroeconomic Forces, and Industry Forces (pages 201–209 of Business Model Generation), ask if there are opportunities for your enterprise to redesign and innovate its business model using a gender lens. Use statistics from Gender Lens Investing to help “size” potential market opportunities which may be knocking right now on your front door.

This classic image (to the left) about “perception” from basic psychology textbooks illustrates the challenge and opportunity facing your enterprise. Stare hard at the picture. What do you see? An older woman looking downward or a younger woman gazing off into the distance?

In essence, I’m encouraging you and your team to conduct a gender lens exercise at the same time as you complete the Examine Business Model activity. Since our perceptions (or points of view) influence subsequent decisions and behaviors, it’s important we put on a different set of glasses (or lens) if we want to move the needle to close the gender wealth gaps and create a more equitable world. So, how do you plan to positively impact women with your business model and enterprise?

Performance Improvement Opportunities

In this edition of Random Thoughts, I’d like to discuss performance improvement. The term was popularized in the 1970’s by Thomas F. Gilbert, who published a pioneering book on the subject titled Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance. Gilbert’s systematic approach to improving performance at all levels of an organization gave birth to the discipline and profession of Human Performance Technology.

I first became aware of Gilbert and the field of performance improvement in the mid-1980’s, when as a rookie internal organization development consultant, I was given an opportunity to lead a project to accelerate the learning and performance of frontline teams in one area of a Cummins Engine Company manufacturing facility. I was reminded of the influence of Gilbert’s work near the end of my forty year career after attending a seminar from The Performance Thinking Network and learning about their Six Boxes Model, which is based on the approach first created by Dr. Gilbert.

In between these two points on my career timeline, I used the term PIO (for performance improvement opportunity) to help teams identify initiatives, projects, or investments that would “move the needle” on priority strategic, business, financial, and organizational strategies. 

As an example, review the SWOT assessment methodology outlined on pages 216–224 of Business Model Generation. You utilized (or will soon utilize) a SWOT diagram to conduct an assessment of each of the nine building blocks of the Strategyzer business model canvas. I refer to the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats documented in the SWOT diagram as a set of priority Performance Improvement Opportunities. These PIOs can be translated by planning or design teams into short- and long-term strategic initiatives, projects, or investments and incorporated into a One Page Strategy Map and Plan (or balanced scorecard). You will become familiar with the One Page Strategy Map and Plan in Module Four of the Business Impact Accelerator© program.

One mid-size enterprise I consulted with in the defense industry from 2007–2011 internalized this concept of PIO to such a degree that one of the strategic measures and initiatives on their balanced scorecard focused on identifying, measuring, and tracking PIOs in every team of the enterprise, including the top management team. The aim of this initiative was to involve all 225 employees in building an enduring, high-performance enterprise. The second aim was to spark innovation as enterprise leaders anticipated (correctly) a downsizing in defense spending ahead of troop withdrawals from major conflict areas in the middle east. The goal was to tap into the creativity of the workforce and identify new products, services, or business opportunities that would offset projected cuts in spending by military and government customers. By the way, this goal was achieved with development and introduction of a successful new product and operating division.

I highly recommend the structured approach to business model SWOT assessment outlined by the team at Strategyzer. I’ve had too many experiences facilitating SWOT sessions where teams could not (or would not) describe the activating forces (strengths/opportunities) and restraining forces (weaknesses/threats) of their enterprise in sufficient detail. I often had to work with a small team later to clarify the wording on a SWOT diagram. The approach outlined in Business Model Generation is an antidote to the vagueness and lack of focus of many SWOT assessments.

There’s another reason why identifying and describing performance (and business) improvement opportunities is critical. It’s called business model expiration, which is a fancy way to say a business model is on its deathbed and ready to fail. Watch this short video from the Strategyzer Channel on YouTube about the four primary reasons for business model failure.

I keep this video close at hand to show coaching clients how easy it is to lose focus and start sliding toward business model expiration. Note the four major reasons for failure described in the video:

  • Solving an irrelevant customer job
  • Flawed business model
  • External threats
  • Poor execution

These four reasons are weaknesses, risks, and threats faced by every enterprise, regardless of age, size, or industry. They represent “performance improvement opportunities” and a good place for you and your team to start as you complete the business model SWOT assessment. However, the real question here is how your enterprise will address these and other PIOs and turn them into strengths or opportunities that improve business performance and business impact.

Do you know your top 10 PIOs? Do you have a plan to use these PIOs to make your enterprise and business model stronger, healthier, and more sustainable?