Corporates & Civil Society: A Win:Draw relationship?

James Farrar of SAP offers a great and critique of IBM's latest CSR thinking over at ZDNet. No mud-slinging, just a cr...

February 19, 2008

James Farrar of SAP offers a great and critique of IBM’s latest CSR thinking over at ZDNet. No mud-slinging, just a critical friend.The thrust of his analysis is that IBM – nearly gets it.  

It understands the value that civil society brings in  helping it achieve its own economic social outcomes, but ultimately assumes too much from its partners.By still seeing NGOs as part of its supply-chain or distribution networks, James suggests that IBM perhaps still misses a critical requirement for stakeholder ‘empathy’ – understanding the needs and expectations of its partners and devising strategies which achieve common ends. Even massive modern alliances like HSBC + WWF are impressive in their scale, but they may still not quite be win:win relationships.  Over the long haul, they may even dilute brand integrity.  They are still only win:draw relationships.  Or even draw:draw.

True win:win relationships occur when both parties can leverage their deepest competencies around a new value synergistic proposition that actually multiplies social and economic value and fulfils both parties instrinsic purpose.  Farrar cites Fair Trade and FSC as examples of novel value-chains, which can only exist through collaboration.

I agree with him, except to note that in these merged propositions some level of transparency and assurance is always sacrificed as the would-be assurer becomes merely an enabler. 

Win:Win relationships are not static mergers, but dynamic relationships that evolve.  They need constant scrutiny and nurture.  



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