Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Towards Business Design Principles for Strongly Sustainable Organizations

I'm busy writing up my thesis right now: "Towards an Ontology and Canvas for Strongly Sustainable Business Models: A Systemic Design Science Exploration".

Based on my considerable progress over the past 2 months I've just added my third post to the blog of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group (SSBMG), an applied research group within OCADU’s Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) that I helped to co-found. 

This new blog post is about one aspect on my thesis:
  • The Strongly Sustainable Business Model Ontology (SSBMO) and the canvas it “powers” (the SSBMC) asks the right questions of business model designers who are trying to create strongly sustainable business model designs…
  • But what, based on the same natural and social science literature of strong sustainability used to identify the questions asked by the SSBMC, are good answers to those questions?

In short: if you design your business model using the SSBMC, while adhering to the design principles for strongly sustainable organizations, when you measure your business using the Gold Standard for Sustainable Business (now known as the Future Fit Business Benchmark), you should find you meet that standard!

I look forward to responding to your comments on the SSBMG blog... now back to writing!


  1. Interesting that you use the word principles Antony.
    It is possible to interpret principles as values. That is, what matters to a person or organisation. As a former mechancial design engineer and now a learning designer I could also interpret principles as design rules.

    It seems to me that would not matter what sustainable design rules were applied to an organisation if what mattered to the leadership was profit, share options, or just plain self interest.

    Peter Scholtes in his book the Leader's Handbook said for an organisation purpose stated "What we do" (what is our business), vision stated "Where we are going" and values stated "Who we are". He also mentioned mission, which I understand as how to get from where an organisation is now to its vision.

    1. Alan,

      My formal definition of a principle definitely aligns with the idea of a design rule: "A design principles is a statement of what is desired of, or a requirement for, some aspect of an artefact." (Chapter 4 of my thesis).

      Did you manage to read the full post:

      Thanks also for your comments on mission, vision and values. Can you tell me how you see these related to an organizations definition of success and how success (or failure) would be measured? I am choosing to represent the latter directly in the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Ontology ( but not mission, vision and values. I'm curious as to your reaction to this.

  2. This blog post is also available on the main Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group (SSBMG) blog: