Making an impact with your business

  • Business Model Shifts

Whether it’s turning a product into a service business, integrating sustainability into the core of your business model, or setting new standards with your game-changing business model, making an impact means providing something positive for the world and attracting customers to stand behind you. The two aren’t mutually exclusive by any means.

An impact is something that leaves a lasting imprint not only on your customer, but also on society and the (natural) environment. Making such a profound impact with your business, requires a long-term value creation perspective and pro-actively looking for opportunities to do something really new and innovative.

Finding the right problems

Many societal, environmental, logistical and other sorts of problems challenge humanity today, and these are not problems that go away by themselves. Solutions for these problems are the opportunities you need to look to in order to make an impact with your business.

Consider one of the world’s most pressing issues, like plastic pollution. The root cause of pollution is obviously the way we setup the global production and consumption system, with waste as the devastating byproduct. Back in the 1990s, Nike realized that waste does not have to be waste. They envisioned a world without waste and started to develop the Nike Grind business model. Nike Grind collects used shoes, grinds them into their high-quality components. This resulted in a whole range of recycled materials that is used to produce new shoes as well as athletic surfaces. The Nike Grind business model tackles the waste problem, fulfills customer needs, and generates a positive impact.

(This case in covered in our latest book ‘Business Model Shifts’)

Innovation is solving customer problems

In 2018, Wavin’s parent company Mexichem decided to shift their perspective from shareholders to stakeholders, become a purpose-led company that commits to solving important societal and environmental issues particularly around sustainability.

In 2019, Mexichem evolved into Orbia, a community of companies bound by a shared purpose. As stated on their website: “We recognize that we can’t solve the world’s biggest challenges alone. We convene innovative businesses and enable them to take a collaborative, human-centered approach to creating a better future.”

This strong and bold vision became the driver of new value creation, igniting the shift towards new business models for all Orbia companies, including Wavin. In 2019, Wavin launched StormForce in the UK. StormForce is a turnkey solution for storm water management, addressing the problem of flooding and heat stress in cities caused by climate change. StormForce was developed due to a true understanding of the societal problems brought about by poor water management and the needs of project developers.

Through interaction with customers, Wavin UK realised they needed to shift from selling products towards a turnkey solution for storm water management. The StormForce proposition is embedded in a service business model that solves an important customer and societal problem.

Facing the future

Ultimately, ‘impact’ as a concept relates to something broader – not just your business. A strong and bold vision clearly articulates and communicates the difference you make in the world: for your customers, partners, and society. Business model innovation is needed to realize the vision as demonstrated by Nike Grind and Wavin StormForce.

This is why it’s wise to develop and communicate a powerful vision, explore new ways to create value, and develop specific new business models, alongside your current business model. This is what strategy is all about in today’s ever changing and dynamic context.

We use tried and true methods to find your next opportunity for problem solving. Interested? Read about Future visioning.


Stay posted.

Keep up to date on what our clients have to tell, new tools, training and cool content.