Catching the Vision for Shared Value
When Champions for Kids board member Dr. Annibal Sodero was invited to attend a Shared Values conference at Harvard, he jumped at the opportunity. It wasn’t the subject matter that attracted him, but was the professor that hosted it.
“Michael Porter is my hero in education,” says Sodero. “I am a big fan of his. I went just to get my picture with him. He teaches a course for young CEOs every year. In academia, everybody knows him. He is a major influence in supply chain and economics.”
Dr. Sodero, assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, loved hearing Porter’s sessions but more than that, he learned a great deal about shared values.
“While I was learning about shared values, I was realizing Champions for Kids couldn’t be at a better place,” Dr. Sodero says.
“Michael Porter was great and we learned some cool things. My eyes were open to what an amazing opportunity Champions for Kids has here in Northwest Arkansas.”
So, what is shared value?
“There are three elements,” Dr. Sodero responds. “Companies often get bad press because they are seen as greedy or destroying the environment. In reality, in a capitalistic society, companies are the engines for economic growth. These corporations have resources. They are at the core of our system.”
“The second element is the role of these organizations. Traditionally they are looking for economic gain. But, what is the value of these companies to the community? That is where the idea of shared value comes in. Companies need to meet the demands of their shareholders but also need to add value to the community.”
The question is what connects these companies to the social institutions, including schools, when they sometimes are antagonistic toward each other? Who is going to serve as a bridge?
“In the middle there are angels who bridge the relationships. Champions for Kids is not only doing good work, it has proved to be a powerful force in making things happen. Champions serves as a bridge between the companies that have money and those who are working for the good of their communities.
“The third element is clusters. These goals are achieved when clusters are developed. In Champions’ case, the clusters are kids in need, institutions or schools that surround those kids, Walmart and the numerous Walmart suppliers.”
Dr. Sodero became convinced that “…for what Champions for Kids does, we couldn’t be in a better place. We are right in the middle of a large cluster. That doesn’t mean the work is easy. There is a lot of work to be done. But, we are perfectly positioned.”
Even as he prepares to teach undergraduates and Ph.D students during the spring semester at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Sodero is excited about the future of Champions for Kids.
The vision of Champions for Kids is clear to Dr. Sodero, and he’s anxious to share it with all who are interested.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on shared value in communities and organizations?