Phil Preston, the author of this case study, explains below the context for writing about Battery World, which is based in Australia. You can also download the full case here

What is the context for this case? What is happening in the region that’s unique and innovative about shared value for companies?

The level of discussion and enquiry has picked up in the past 12 months as companies respond to the concept of earnings growth with societal benefits. This has been enhanced by niche consulting firm involvement, developments in practitioner expertise, leadership in the banking sector and the creation of new forums. For larger consumer-facing companies, re-defining relationships with customers is a source of innovation that also has the potential to invigorate employees. For small-medium enterprises, providing examples of what other SMEs have done using shared value strategies in the language that the market understands is powerful.

What’s exciting about the work that Battery World is doing in creating shared value? What’s new, different about how or to what extent they are creating social and business impact?

The Battery World example is exciting on several fronts: firstly, the initial innovation came from a store licensee who was facing competitive pressures; he took a proactive approach to differentiating his business and has provided social benefits for householders, schools and local government in the process. There was financial risk involved in this strategy because it was not clear whether foot traffic and sales would increase enough to cover or exceed the cost of accredited battery disposal, however the reward for taking this risk has been in the form of sustained advantage. Secondly, at the franchisor level, the innovation displayed by this licensee was recognised as a source of value creation that fit neatly into the strategic direction of the brand; therefore it was supported, refined and then scaled up throughout the national store network. It took skill and perseverance to effectively communicate the benefits to other franchise owners in the roll out process.

What’s the biggest challenge that you see companies face in adopting shared value?

At the executive level, it is about taking the time to understand what shared value has to offer, and then it requires leadership to commence the journey. At the operational level, finding the right language to motivate key stakeholders is a common challenge.

How can they overcome this challenge? What do you help companies do to overcome their challenges?

As a practitioner, all forms of communication are important. Relating stories about shared value benefits help engage businesses in new types of conversation. Clearly differentiating shared value from community investment or CSR activities is one of the main points to get across. I also find that my role is to translate messages between audiences that have different perspectives and needs.

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