A nice email note today from Mark McElroy this morning. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Organizations and the original developer of the Context-Based Sustainability method, to draw on his bio on the Sustainable Brands website
He is also co-founder of Thomas & McElroy LLC, creators of the MultiCapital Scorecard (see above), and a veteran of management consulting including time spent at Price Waterhouse, KPMG and Deloitte Consulting. He teaches in the ‘MBA in Managing for Sustainability’ program at Marlboro College in Vermont.
I’ve been meaning to reach out to you for some time now to essentially acknowledge, pay tribute to and thank you for something you did when you introduced the TBL in the mid-nineties, but which most people may not yet fully appreciate in my view. And that was to explicitly associate each of the bottom lines with specific vital capitals.
Most were so caught up with the metaphorical value of the TBL as an organizing principle for performance assessment — nothing wrong with that — that we failed to fully appreciate what you also had to say about how vital capitals correspond to the bottom lines.
Now, in 2015, we’ve managed to make the leap from metaphorical organizing principle to empirical measurement model. The MultiCapital Scorecard, for example, is nothing if not utterly grounded in the view that TBL performance can and should be interpreted in terms of what an organization’s impacts are on vital capitals relative to sustainability thresholds. In fact, it is the application of this idea to non-financial capitals that has given rise to the idea that sustainability criteria can and should be applied to financial performance, too. Thus comes the idea that maximizing profits as a regulative ideal should be replaced with simply providing reasonable returns. Sufficiency will more than do.
I now routinely call attention to this intellectual contribution of yours twenty years ago, and wanted to let you know that I am. It’s a very big deal in my view, in the spirit of organizations not being able to manage what they don’t measure. Sustainability performance in its full TBL form essentially boils down to capital impact performance, and you were perhaps the first to point that out. So here I am giving credit where credit is due. As “multicapitalism” now grows in prominence as a new anti-monocapitalism doctrine, your contribution to the transition should not be overlooked.
All the best,