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An Earth Day Message: Creativity Is Key for the 3Ps

April 22, 2021


In business, we often hear those in management talking about the bottom line. A lot of attention is paid to profit, particularly the financial kind. Although we recognize the very real need to make ends meet, at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, we believe in and teach the modern-day triple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity.

Just over 25 years ago, the author, advisor and serial entrepreneur John Elkington coined the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit. You might have seen it referred to in shorthand as the 3Ps, TBL or 3BL, but regardless of the terminology used, the idea took aim at a topic that is dominating discussions today: sustainability in business.

In the years since Elkington first coined the phrase, more and more companies have created entire departments dedicated to corporate social responsibility, and legislation and lobbying have pushed more companies toward adopting environmentally responsible approaches to their businesses. It’s been a great start toward responsible capitalism, but a few years ago, Elkington talked in Forbes about how he wanted to recall the 3Ps framework because he felt that, although the concepts had served to drive forward today’s sustainability agenda, he had not developed the 3Ps to serve as just another accounting tool.

To sum it up, people were putting too much emphasis on profit, and time had shown that the messaging needed to be refined.

"Creativity has the particular power to enable learning, inspire people, embrace novelty, effect change, foster original decision-making and expression, and drive problem-solving." 
– Professor David Slocum

Our EMBA program has long adopted the global, creative approach of considering our impact on the world, the way personal leadership skills can affect those you work with and the value that businesses create. But recently, we’ve seen an increased need to deliver these lessons to a wider audience, and we’ve responded to the desire for a more forthright focus on sustainability, what it means, and why creativity and creative leadership will be a key element when it comes to sustainable solutions.

That’s where our new Master of Science in Sustainable and Creative Leadership and Bachelor of Arts in Management and Creative Leadership programs come in. Through these new, completely online programs, we are able to use state-of-the-art technologies to deliver vital lessons in responsible creative leadership. Let’s take a closer look at how we do that in line with the 3Ps.

PEOPLE: This component looks that the effect that an organization has on people who are somehow tied to that organization. Although it includes those who immediately come to mind (such as employees, customers and suppliers), its reach goes beyond that initial net to include the communities those organizations operate in and any other person who can influence or be affected by the organization.

Our Master of Science in Sustainable and Creative Leadership and Bachelor of Arts in Management and Creative Leadership both teach topics such as people, culture management, global thinking and more. We help every student cultivate new and different ways of seeing, interpreting, behaving and acting in the world while also developing an inspiring, authentic and adaptive leadership identity and practice that enables them to collaborate successfully with others, all while building cultures of creativity and meaning.

On top of that, we offer in-person enrichment opportunities that really emphasize the diverse, empathetic outlook that we embody. BSCL teaches, as one of our students Saadia Alkouatli so aptly said, that, “Success doesn’t lie within us as individuals. It lies within the team. With the right leadership and emotional IQ, we can uncap an enormous wealth of capacity.”

PLANET: This is more often than not what people think of when they hear the word sustainability, and it includes considerations about carbon footprint, natural resources, toxic materials, deforestation and so on. The effect an organization has on the planet can be positive or negative, and it’s just as much about the elements a company adds as it is about what components it takes away — for example, it’s a balance between planting trees and minimizing the use of resources in the first place.

At BSCL, we teach every student how to uphold the values of social and environmental sustainability in the face of complex and ongoing change. Many of our students, like founder Luciane Coutinho and curator Ana Lavaquial of LivMundi, have gone on to found environmentally conscious companies — which is something we’re incredibly proud of. 

Our Master of Science in Sustainable and Creative Leadership has a heavy social and environmental sustainability focus, particularly in the context of the unprecedented growth and change we’re seeing as part of Industry 4.0. Additionally, as part of our future-focused curriculum, our Bachelor of Arts in Management and Creative Leadership features a mandatory Sustainability & Management module that discusses the circular economy, sustainable investing and more — and those who are wanting to focus in that area can choose to dive deeper into the subject with an additional elective.

PROSPERITY: This is the most misunderstood (or misconstrued) element of the 3Ps. Prosperity goes beyond monetary profit to encompass the positive or negative impact an organization has on the local, national and international economy. To truly focus on responsible capitalism and economic impact, we also have to look at societal impact and costs — that is, how does the organization perform in terms of creating employment, generating innovation, paying taxes, creating wealth and so on.

In an excerpt of his book, founder and CEO of the carpet tile company Interface Ray Anderson once said, “Done right, sustainability doesn’t cost. It pays.” (You might also want to check out his TED Talk on the business logic of sustainability). With consumers paying more attention than ever to whether organizations (and the individuals who run them) are operating ethically and sustainably, this emphasis on prosperity — not just profit — is incredibly important and can pay dividends in terms of goodwill, word-of-mouth marketing and more.

Our BSCL programs cover foundational business and accounting topics, including how to generate and report revenue, but we also focus on teaching our students how to truly create, measure and prioritize value that goes beyond the budget sheets.

Author and entrepreneur Paul Hawken said that sustainability is “one of the most certain paths to innovation for companies seeking a competitive edge,” and we firmly agree. We hope you do, too.

If you’re ready to learn more about how our Master of Science in Sustainable and Creative Leadership or Bachelor of Arts in Management and Creative Leadership programs can help you intentionally invest in yourself and the 3Ps, have a look through our website or send us a message.