Monday, April 7, 2008

What is a social business?

Dear Colleagues

There is a lot of discussion around the question "What is a social business?"

Most of this discussion is inconclusive, in large part because the issues are usually being talked about in something of a vacuum. There is a need for metrics, and the needed metrics are usually not available.

In fact, the metrics that might describe social business are not well defined, and to the extent that they exist at all are rarely applied in practical situations. With this lack of metrics ... the discussion tends to generalities.

Tr-Ac-Net is in the process of developing a system of Social Benefit Accountancy (SBA) which can be applied to a social business situation and will help to determine what is a social business and what is not. Part of the value of SBA is that it helps to give some capacity for nuance ... because what might be a valuable social business in one context may simply be wasting money in another setting, and all sorts of subtle variances that change the character of the entity.

At some level, the goal is to have an ability to document what something IS ... and then separately decide what to call it. It is likely that there will be a very wide range of characteristics that are both subtle in difference and important in difference ... all covering a range of types of social business ... and some not being social business at all. But the driver of this is going to be what the entity IS, before it gets a name.


Peter Burgess

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