The Triple Bottom Line and the ROI Methodology: what do they have in common?

A sustainable event contributes to the Triple Bottom Line by minimising damage to the environment, supporting local communities and providing value for money to stakeholders, sometimes referred to as Planet, People and Profit. 1
It may surprise you that the ROI Methodology embraces all three aspects of sustainability, not only the financial viability. And it is not just a tool for measuring results, it is just as much a planning tool. This is simply because if you intend to measure results, you have to start by setting objectives that are clear, measurable and logically connected. This is the most important prerequisite for planning a successful event.
Consider the ROI Pyramid as your planning as well as your measurement model. You plan by setting objectives from the top down, and you measure from the bottom up.
Meetings and events can only create value to stakeholders by changing the behaviour of participants. There is no other value creation mechanism. This is the Level 3 in the Pyramid. Behaviour leads to Impact and Return on Investment.
For a business event, the ROI is a monetary calculation, a statement of contribution to shareholder value. For a non-business organisation, the impact on its mission is the ultimate value. For the International Cancer Society, the mission is to combat cancer and the event needs to make a contribution to this end.
After setting objectives for Impact and Behaviour, we ask ourselves what Learning experience (Level 2) will lead to the change in Behaviour. How will participant Satisfaction and Learning Environment (Level 1) support the Learning? And finally, what number and types of participants, the Target Audience (Level 0), provides the largest possible multiplier for the ensuing Chain of Impact, measuring results step by step up the Pyramid towards Impact and ROI.

The ROI Methodology

People, Planet & Profit
All events have several stakeholders. We need to set objectives and measure results as a separate exercise for each of them. When there is alignment of objectives, this is no problem. But sometimes we have to reconcile conflicting objectives. By introducing the concept of sustainability, we simply add the local community and the environment, People and Planet, as stakeholders, and reconcile objectives.
Alignment between Profit and People is not too difficult to achieve as events provide business to the local community, and can do even more so by sourcing local products and services.
The Planet is trickier as events often generate large amounts of waste and invariably leave a carbon footprint. Perhaps ROI will be better by going virtual, or hybrid (both virtual and real), but then there is less benefit to People, less business to the local community.
In the final analysis, it is always a matter of value to stakeholders. It would be a shame for a business event, for example, to have a negative impact on the environment and also make a loss to the company. If we have a negative impact on the environment, we had better make sure to maximise the positive impact on People and other stakeholders. By using The ROI Methodology to plan and measure the sucesses of events we are able to to analyse and reconcile objectives for each of the core three spheres of sustainability, People, Planet and Profit. The Methodology creates effienciencies, supports the implementation of sustainability objectives and provides a framework for measuring the results.

Article written by Dr. Elling Hamso and Rosa Garriga Mora

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