Giving leaders a blank check to pursue big goals is a powerful display of trust. It shows that you believe they will do the right thing, take ownership, and be accountable for the results. Such intelligent risk taking can lead to a remarkable return on investment.
For example, sales of Oreos outside the U.S. increased from $200 million to more than a billion dollars in six years as a result of a blank check. But not all experiments will succeed. In fact, failure is often part of the process that ultimately leads to success.
By Mark Fleming
How should MBAs think about integrating financial returns with sustainable community impact?
That was the question I sought to answer earlier this year when I participated in the New Orleans Learning Journey — a conference for impact investors — leading up to New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week.
The Learning Journey’s organizers, Daryn Dodson and Jenna Nicholas, believe that people open to embarking on a journey of knowing themselves better are more equipped to invest in personal relationships that, over time, lead to structural community change. Dodson works with the pioneering impact investing firm Calvert Funds and is on the board of directors at Ben & Jerry’s, a billion dollar company at the forefront of responsible business. Nicholas helps lead the Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a movement with nearly $5 billion in assets pledged to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy solutions.
Looking back on the four-day event, I learned three major things that could help an MBA become a better impact investor.