Part 4: Leveraging Synergies and Managing Tensions

The following table illustrates how each performance criteria fits within the four strategic lenses, and describes sample activities that demonstrate the interplay of strategic actions with performance outcomes.

While each performance criteria relates directly to each of the lenses, the extent to which one impacts the other varies. For example, the stakeholder engagement lens is most critical when dealing with performance issues around depth of impact—if the appropriate constituents are not successfully engaged in your organization’s activities, deeper impact is less likely to occur. Stakeholder engagement is also critical to achieving blended value creation, though to a lesser extent—an organization could conceivably create blended value without engaging all the necessary stakeholders. Thus, each performance criteria has a primary lens.

The secondary lenses are often where less obvious synergies and tensions exist. As much as a performance criterion is unlikely to be achieved without a strong focus on its primary lens, it is also likely that when performance does not reach its expected level based on activities in the primary lens, the culprit can be found by examining tensions or lack of synergies in the secondary lenses.

The table can be read two different ways: not only by looking at a given performance criteria across the four lenses (across a row) but also by looking at a given lens across the four performance criteria (down a column). Again, each lens will be primary for a given criteria, and again tensions and synergies will exist in its relationships with the other criteria.

The table brings to our attention the full extent of the integrated approach:

  1. At a macro level, practitioners manage synergies and tensions between sustainability and social impact in the social enterprise. This view is represented by the time-tested, albeit simplistic, social enterprise adage, “balancing the double bottom line.”
  2. Upon deeper analysis, however, it becomes apparent that instead of a “double bottom line,” practitioners actually have to coordinate, manage and balance their efforts around (at least) four (and possibly more) performance criteria: depth of impact, blended value, efficiency and adaptability.
  3. Examining further, we observe that to achieve performance outcomes as per each performance criterion, practitioners’ efforts involve decision making and managing several activities related to each of the four strategic lenses: stakeholder engagement, resource mobilization, knowledge development and culture management.
  4. Finally, since each strategic lens is seen as playing a role in each performance criterion, the opportunity exists for many more synergies and tensions to be managed within and between the lenses themselves as they pertain to the different performance criteria and influence performance outcomes.