Excerpt from McKinsey – By Marco Albani and Kimberly Henderson
Companies are increasingly expected to join with other organizations—both public and private—to address social and environmental problems. Here are seven ways to make such alliances successful.
Business is being asked to do more than ever to solve social and environmental problems. As a result, a growing number of leading companies are taking the challenge of sustainability seriously, not only to reduce their environmental footprint and bolster their reputations but also to improve operations and financial performance.
Many ecosystem challenges cross jurisdictional boundaries and require systemic changes beyond the capabilities of individual companies or even of an industry. In these cases, the best approach for business can be to partner up—with governments, investors, local communities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other companies. Think of these partnerships as distinctive and complicated joint ventures, often with multiple parties.
Such collaborations often go through phases—good, bad, and sometimes ugly, particularly in the early days. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a partnership that sets standards for the fishing industry, struggled in its first few years with high staff turnover and unstable funding. In the past decade, however, it has become a force. Its certification standards cover 10 percent of the global seafood harvest, and almost a quarter of global shoppers recognize the MSC label. This covers more than 20,000 products sold in over 100 countries.
To understand how to make these collaborations work, we interviewed dozens of business, government, and NGO leaders. From this research, we identified seven essential principles of success.