Better Know a B: Three Point Zero
Three Point Zero are a business transformation consultancy based in the UK. They help their clients rethink how they create value in their organisations. They specialise in purpose and sustainability, organisational culture and marketing capability, and work with a wide range of organisations, from global multinationals, B-Corps and Trusts, to SMEs and start-ups, social enterprises and charities. We interviewed co-founder Simon McEvoy to learn more about Three Point Zero.
SD | Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
Three Point.Zero is a business transformation consultancy based in the UK. It was founded with the ambition to help the institution of business to be a positive force in the world, by forging mutually beneficial links between business and society.
The business was founded by Michelle Keaney and Simon McEvoy who were marketers by trade, Michelle client side at large brands like Heienken and Disney, Simon agency-side, working with clients like Sky and PepsiCo. Shortly after creating the business the founders were joined by Cranfield Alumni and Consulting Academic Nadine Exter, who brought with her a wealth of experience working in sustainability and culture management.
The idea for the business came because the founders could see big problems with the way most businesses were trying to ‘sell’ their businesses in an increasingly cynical and hostile market. Customers were increasingly demanding that businesses behave in more sustainable and socially responsible ways, with a clear sense of purpose – yet most brands were responding with meaningless cause marketing campaigns that lacked substance.
We felt there was a more authentic way to harness the power of brands to ‘create shared value’ in the world, drawing a clear link between authentic business purpose and sustainability strategy, its internal culture and its external brand. Our approach is use the purpose and sustainability strategy of the business as a lever for better engagement inside and outside the business.
We’ve had a busy but fascinating year and a half, working with a range of sized businesses (including some B Corps) helping them to leverage their purpose more effectively.
SD | Why did you become a B Corp?
It’s pretty clear from our business vision that B Corp and Three Point.Zero are highly aligned in what we are trying to achieve, and the kind of world we want to create. To be honest, as soon as we learned of B Corp we knew we wanted to be a part of it, that it completely aligned with our values and objectives. In fact, it aligned so much we joined the UK B Leaders programme too.
However, on a broader level, we are interested in systems change – how can businesses, working together, create a form of capitalism which works better for all people and the planet. Collaboration is vital to achieving this, so we see B Corp as probably the most impactful movement of businesses worldwide who are all committed to working together to achieve this goal.
SD | What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
First and foremost, the chance to be part of a movement that enacts real change in our global business community. When you look at the calibre of organisations in this movement – big and small – it’s very exciting to think what they can achieve together.
Additionally, we are looking forward to learning from other B’s around the world – sharing best practice, noting cultural differences, working together. This is the great thing about being part of a global movement.
We’ve also really enjoyed the social side of being a B Corp. As a small business it’s nice to have a network of like-minded others who we can spend time with. Things like B Fest are a real treat.
Oh, and we hope to work with more B Corps too! We’ve already had the pleasure of helping some B Corps leverage their purpose more effectively – it’s a great feeling to be helping part of the community to become stronger and grow more effectively.
SD | Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
We are a small business, so our main impacts come through the work we do with clients. In the last year we’ve written a three-year plan for one of the UK’s largest retailers to help them embed sustainability principles into their category strategy. We worked with the Cabinet Office on the Mission Led Business Review. We’ve worked with a B Corp to open up more strategic conversations with one of their biggest retail customers. And we’ve helped a small consultancy firm create and embed purpose and values for the first time in their 10-year history.
It’s hard to measure the full impact of some of this work, but we’ll be measuring what we can over time to see the difference.
SD | What benefits have you seen since certification?
I think even before certification there is an immediate benefit to understanding more about your impacts generally – the due diligence process meant we had to look at how well run our business was as a whole. The beauty of the certification is that it’s ‘whole business’ – so can really help to just run a better business.
I also think it’s really helped us to understand where and how we make a difference. For example, by working to recruit more B Corps, we can make a really big impact which is perfectly aligned to our purpose, so this is now a big focus for us.
SD | How did your other staff react to the certification?
Well I can say that the entire team was in unanimous support – although this is only three people!
SD | What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
We have always had the B Corp mindset since we formed, so the changes internally haven’t been huge. But we’ve been able to use B Corp as a great conversation starter with clients. Lots of businesses pay lip-service to purpose or social responsibility, but how many are prepared to really go through the process of certifying? B Corp gives us a great steer on where a client’s level of ambition lies, and a useful framework for where the company is weak and strong.
SD | What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
We’ve worked with quite a lot of blue-chip companies over the last year or so, which is really interesting, but we feel there is a lot of great work to be done in the SME community, working with medium sized businesses and family-owned businesses that could be using a purpose-led approach to culture and branding to drive their business forwards. We’re going to be doing a big push this year to engage with that community better. If we want to see real change happen it’s important to speak to businesses outside of the London blue-chip bubble.
We are also going to be reaching out to existing purposeful brands that haven’t leveraged their purposeful activities fully yet, either internally or externally. There are big opportunities for B Corps and other purposeful businesses to really use purpose strategically for employee engagement, commercial partnerships and customer relationships - which we can help with.
SD | Who is your B Corp crush?
Ella’s Kitchen. We feed Ella’s to our kids and have referenced them in virtually every presentation we do. They do an incredible job of making purpose and values tangibly ‘felt’ in their business, and communicating them to their customers. They also show how even a large, multi-national owned business with demanding sales targets can become a truly positive business.
We love them so much we asked Mark Cuddigan (their MD) to be one of our non-execs!
SD | It’s 2020, 4 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
We’re going to see more large companies joining the movement – we know Unilever and Danone are having these kind of conversations, and if the complexities can be ironed out more will follow. This will inevitably mean more people will start to hear of it and it will start to enter a wider public consciousness. This is the key for the movement. Once ordinary people are aware of B Corp and why B Corps are better businesses to buy from, it will help to make the case for certification more compelling.
SD | What is inspiring you at the moment?
Some highlights are:
Book: Reinventing Organisations, which looks at how we can create thriving organisations without the need for rigid hierarchies. The conversation about how we re-think organisational structures and break down old hierarchies is only going to get stronger. http://www.reinventingorganizations.com/
Podcast: More or Less: Behind the Stats, a fascinating podcast by BBC Radio 4 which digs into the stats we hear bandied about in the news and uncovers whether they can be believed or not. Essential listening in a post-truth world.
Idea: Universal Basic Income. This idea is gaining traction at present, and would seemingly be the solution to poverty, automation and inequality all in one go. But who is going to vote (and pay) for it? And how will it change the world of work, and the world of B Corps? A great topic that works equally well in the boardroom or the pub!