25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It.

by John Elkington 28 June 2018

This article just published in Harvard Business Review signals our plans to launch the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry: Beyond the Triple Bottom Line.

Volans is inviting future-oriented businesses and market-shaping individuals and organizations to join an independent inquiry into the past, present and—crucially—future of what some call ‘multicapitalism’, symbolized by the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). The aim is to look back 25 years, then forward at least to 2030. Launch date: September 2018.

If you’re interested in getting involved sign up here and we will be back in touch when the project begins. Alternatively, email to start the conversation.

2019 will mark the 25th anniversary of the TBL. So what comes next? In the article I propose a ‘product recall’ on the concept—the first such recall in the history of management theory. The idea is to refresh the concept for the 2020s.

From a world where a minority of TBL companies (including over 2,500 B Corporations) operate in single bottom line markets, we will investigate pathways to a world of TBL companies serving increasingly circular TBL-oriented markets. We will host a major event in October 2019, marking the TBL anniversary, to launch the results of the project.

The first stage of the project will involve co-evolving a vision of a multicapitalist future against which key actors can be benchmarked. We will explore the systemic changes required to deliver the societal needs distilled in the UN Global Goals. This will be done with an eye to the implications for key stakeholders in business, finance, policy-making and business education.

Once the framework is established, and with the help of an independent peer review group, we will conduct at least four in-depth case studies with businesses that have pushed the envelope with the TBL agenda—and are now wondering what comes next.

Each company will have been successful, within the limits of the game; each will operate internationally in a different sector; and each will welcome a forensic investigation of what has worked—and what hasn’t—since their top team embraced the TBL. Each company will also make an openly declared contribution to the overall project budget.

The analysis will be conducted in close consultation with participants. Volans will have ultimate editorial control, but each case study company will be asked to ensure sign off by its top team. The value to case study participants will include:

·      A testing of its preparedness for the societal challenges of the 2020s

·      Close engagement with a select group of TBL pioneers and other influencers

·      A critical SWOT assessment of the TBL against other emerging concepts, e.g. Shared Value and the Circular Economy

·      A tailored presentation for its top team, with recommended next steps

·      Involvement in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism outreach, including filmed interviews—building on our Project Breakthrough work for the UN Global Compa



@volansjohn:We are oscillating between worlds of possibility and collapse. Psychic strain immense - and getting worse. But I vi……
@volansjohn:Didn’t know that, Gil - record duly corrected!…
@VolansRich:@RichardCRoberti I appreciate the commitment to this joke 👏🏻


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