Archive for February, 2008

The Elusive Triple Bottom Line Again

February 4th, 2008

Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge newsletter has an insightful post this morning asking whether sustainability and triple-bottom-line principles are growth opportunities or zero-sum propositions for most companies. There is great discussion in the comments as well.

I’ve mused on the same ideas previously. The idea of “service”- of adding value to society and the world that goes beyond shareholder returns- is captivating. Is it feasible?

The article speculates that there is some “low hanging fruit” that companies have already grabbed and that further integration of economic, social and environmental bottom lines is likely to be more difficult. Several commenters also point out that stock markets tend to reward the economic gains and gloss over less visible results.

True enough. Just getting any one line consistently “in the black” is hard- keeping them all there is probably more than most companies can do all the time. It helps when banks and regulators push issues like climate change onto the economic balance sheet, but the effort is still largely its own reward, which explains why even the companies really excited about the ideas consider 1% of profits to be an acceptable amount to expend on social/environmental goals.

Back to the original question- I believe there is a “balance point” for most businesses- where triple bottom line results may swing back and forth a bit over time, but stay basically stable. If each line is a pendulum, a few companies may be able to get them all swinging together most of the time, but most have to live with a certain amount of lurching when the pendulums get out of sync and then work to smooth the disharmonies. That’s what i strive for in my own business, at least.

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Dear Mr. Facebook: Less Application-Spam and More Group News in My Feed, Please

February 1st, 2008

Facebook’s news feed is, in my opinion, the best thing about the platform. I understand that lots of users happily bounce around among friends’ profile pages, but that isn’t something that interests me at all. Let’s say I’m too busy for that- though in truth I bounce around to various web pages elsewhere a bunch. I guess I just don’t use my “down time” that way.

This is why I am frustrated that the news feed has been taken over by application-spam. I really don’t care that someone scored __ on a Flixter quiz, or that so-and-so challenged someone to something or other.

On the other hand, there are loads of FB groups and fan pages that do nothing for me because I don’t use the site that way. I belong to a handful of groups, but I’m not even sure why since I never visit the group pages.

Putting these two observations together, then, here is my request to Mr. Facebook:

1) Let me opt out of application spam. I don’t even have the Movies application and I still get spammed by it in my feed.

2) Publish updates from my Groups pages. I joined the darn Paris-Roubaix group so I’m interested in it. Tell me when people post messages or upload new photos. If you show me there is activity happening I’ll be more likely to visit the page.

Feel free to show me ads based on my group interests too. I’ve already self-selected my interest in certain topics, so I’m more likely to click through on ads reflecting those interests.

I’m not sure if this goes against the current on how Facebook monetizes traffic. Everyone seems focused on applications (probably because this is the only- and weak- hope for third parties to make money on FB), but I find them really superficial and transient. Groups (and possibly fan pages) represents lasting interests. Let’s see them get some more love from Facebook.

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