3. Design Principles

The "Gold Standard" / Strongly Sustainable Business Design Principles tell people what are the acceptable possible answers to the questions which the tool asks them to answer in order for them to create a strongly sustainable business model using the design method.

The literature which underpins these design principles is the same understanding of sustainability that underpins all parts of the gold standard - so it all works together:
  • the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Canvas Tool (Ontology) - this asks the questions
  • the Strongly Sustainable Business Design Principles - this provides the valid answers
  • the Future Fit Business Benchmark KPIs (metrics) - how to measure a business
  • the Future Fit Business Benchmark Goals (Thresholds) - values of the KPIs which if achieved allow you to claim your business is "strongly sustainable" aka Future-Fit
At the December 2012 SSBMG meeting Antony Upward presented the first view of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Ontology and Canvas Detailed Design Principles" based on his original work in his thesis (Chapter 4, sections 4.7.2, pp.398-403 "Towards a Theory for the Conditions Required for Strongly Sustainable Organizations" and Chapter 7, section 7.7, pp.845-856 "Proto-Strongly Sustainable Business Design Principles").  These thesis sections are is summarized in his blog post on the SSBMG blog:  Towards Design Principles for Strongly Sustainable Organizations), and list the following organizations as promoting the principles required to design strongly sustainable / flourishing enterprises:
In addition there are two notable measurement systems and standards aligned with the science of strong sustainability

Subsequently, working closely with the Future Fit Business Benchmark Team team Antony Upward and Bob Willard, with help from Merlina Missimer, have worked to further define / refine both the detailed environmental and social design principles.  Contact Antony or Bob for details.

Additional Ideas

The following are sources of ideas for design principles in addition to the ones highlighted in the original research (introduced above, summarized here):
  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives - see p6.coop/about-p6/
  7. Concern for Community
The following histories are also useful to understand the origins and current state of the  International Co-operative Alliance principles
These have then be focused in the International Co-operative Alliance's "Blue Print for a Co-operative Decade" into a 2020 Vision and programme consisting of 5 areas for focused activity
  1. Participation
  2. Sustainability
  3. Identity
  4. Legal Frameworks
  5. Capital
 (Thanks to Russ Christianson for highlighting these - and many other relevant co-op related materials).
  • The principles espoused by the  Transition Towns movement in their various publications, including books by Rob Hopkins.  (Originally UK based but now global)
    • This 2015 bibliography on "Transition Design" could be very helpful here (thanks to Peter  Jones for highlighting)
  • The ideas behind the Commercial and Guardian Syndromes described in Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs, reviewed by Peter Jones here.
  • "the Antarctic Protocol" - Ideas from Antarctic by Jim Stanley Robinson described in this blog post by Antony Upward
  • The Forum for the Future / Technology Strategy Board "Horizons Cards" - intro here, download cards here.
  • The OCAD University Situation Lab Thing from the Future Game can be used, in-conjunction with the design principles, to spark creative thinking about new products and services.
  • The Group Works cards can be used to inspire creative thinking about group / organization design and purpose - they provide "A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and Other Gatherings"
  • The Center for Creative Leadership's Visual Explorer Cards (used by TNS Canada in some of their workshops to create "the outcome of better conversations about things that matter")
  • The TNS Switzerland Sustainability Compass App with 18 Theme Cards. (TNS Switzerland also helpfully publish a list of other card decks they know about that support exploration of sustainable business models here).
  • The website Design Principles and Practices has a wealth of research (journals, books) and practice related to the general topic of design principles and the practices on how to apply them.  This could help us ground our thinking in the latest praxis.
  • Members of the Socio-Technical Systems Round Table (STSRT) have recently published a book "Co-Creating Humane & Innovative Organisations: Evolutions in the Design Of Socio-Technical Systems"
    • Mohr, B. J., & van Amelsvoort, P. (Eds.). (2015). Co-creating humane & innovative organisations: Evolutions in the design of socio-technical systems Global STS-D Network which was founded in 2014 by the STS Roundtable (North America) and the Ulbo de Sitter Institute (the Netherlands and Belgium).
  • The International Living Futures Institute (ILFI) now have three specific design standards - including Goals/KPIs and Design Principles based / aligned with the TNS FSSD which are relevant to aspects of flourishing business model design.  Good intro article here.  We know the local Toronto people  from the ILFI and have presentation materials, videos and other resources that explain their approach.
  • Biomimicry in all its many forms.
  • The UK based Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) in March 2015 released their Manifesto for Local Economies which is at a more macro-economic perspective - but is clearly aligned with the Localist principles espoused by the US based Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) mentioned above.
  • John Ehrenfeld has recently started to articulate some design principles, albeit perhaps at a more macro level, rather than the meso level of our focus:
  • The Maritz Institute has provided some good meta-context for people centric enterprise design principles in their 2009 report by Mary Beth McEuen "The Changing Game of Business and Leadership", and then developed three "people principles" from which they "distilled" "21 Science Based Design Principles" and a "Program Experience Design Guide"
  • The Futures Company (Andrew Curry, Jules Peck) have written "The 21st Century Business" introduced in this blog post and downloadable here.
    • In this book they suggest 3 "guiding principles for 21st century business"
      • Culture is more important than strategy
      • Intrinsic values trump extrinsic values
      • Costs and customer experience are both driven by connection
    • They also suggest "six significant shifts in the way that successful 21st companies will do business"
      1. From disconnected to networked: The networked business understands that its different parts form a single system, and acts on that.
      2. From closed to open: The open business operates in a porous way, letting the outside world in and building mutual advantage.
      3. From fixed to fluid: The 21st century (fluid) business uses management and budget processes that respond to external change.
      4. From volume to value: Businesses increasingly tailor products and services to their users. wrapping products in a tailored network of services to do more with less.
      5. From risk to opportunity: Regulation and other external shifts will come to be seen as signs about the boundaries that society places on markets, so will become a platform for innovation.
      6. From consumers to citizens: Companies will succeed by delivering against needs that reflect their customers’ whole lives, as citizens as well as consumers.
Subpages (1): 2013-01-10 Meeting Notes