How does business model innovation work? How does each new business model, from car sharing to distributed energy and crowd sourcing, contribute to sustainability? The latest report of Sustainability, Model Behavior, identifies 20 distinct business models that advance sustainability. In the report, they explored each model’s mechanics and implications. In doing so, they hope to understand how we can catalyze and scale business model innovation for sustainability.
Model Behavior marks the beginning of ongoing, in-depth exploration of this topic.
The idea of business model innovation — that a company could launch a new business model never conceived of before, or transform an existing business model — has long captivated business leaders. Yet, executives are often held back by vested interests in their current approach: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But as global trends — environmental, social, political, technological — continue to shift the foundations of our current business models, incremental innovation will become less effective in enabling companies, industries and whole economies to adapt and succeed. There is an urgent need for fundamentally different approaches to value creation.
SustainAbility has long recognized and advocated the need for fundamental shifts in business practice, including in business models, both to drive necessary progress toward, and to unlock business value from sustainability. Such shifts are all the more urgent and relevant today, given slow progress on sustainable development broadly and accelerating innovation and disruption (both positive and negative) already playing out in many industries.
That is the basis for this report, exploring the role and practice of business model innovation in the context of sustainability. In it, we break down the innovative models we’re seeing, trying to better understand their origins, mechanics and implications. In doing so, we hope to induce more focused conversation about business model innovation, going beyond merely marveling at each new car-sharing company or crowdfunding site, and delving deeper into how such innovation comes about, and how we can catalyze more of it.
This report aims to help by offering inspiration and reflection, by raising issues and questions for further exploration, and by providing a framework for ongoing discussion. It grows out of SustainAbility’s past work on social entrepreneurship and innovation (supported by the Skoll Foundation and others) and on the evolving role of the private sector in sustainable development (via our 2012 Regeneration Roadmap project and its final report, Changing Tack), and responds to the growing emphasis on systems change and collaboration as key enablers of a sustainable future.
Model Behavior: 20 Business Models for Sustainability PDF – 3946 kB Download