1. What is InterfaceRAISE’s value proposition? InterfaceRAISE’s value proposition is that Interface’s firsthand experience in implementing sustainable strategies, practices and culture will accelerate other companies’ leanings and performance in this area. InterfaceRAISE will be a credible peer-to-peer consultancy in this field due to Interface’s reputation as a successful pioneer in sustainable manufacturing. Interface have a record since 1994 of embedding sustainability into their business model and have successfully grown, found savings and delivered profits over this time. 2.
InterfaceRAISE has three objectives. Which appears to be driving its strategy? Can all three be achieved simultaneously? The objective that appears to be driving InterfaceRAISE’s strategy is the first objective 1. “Further Interface’s restorative goals by helping other organizations launch or accelerate their sustainability efforts. ” (Toffel 2012, 5) Toffell writes of InterfaceRAISE that “the ultimate vision was sustainability and restoration” (2012, 5). InterfaceRAISE was established in order to fulfill Interface’s vision of moving beyond sustainability to becoming restorative.
Anderson’s vision of Interface becoming restorative seemed unachievable from a purely manufacturing perspective, however, the opportunity to advocate sustainable practices was considered to assist in the achievement of environmental restoration though this positive influence (Toffell 2012, 4). The other two objectives – to create a halo effect on Interface’s brand with a result of increasing carpet sales, and to become a financially sustainable business, appear to be subordinate objectives.
Interface’s success in implementing a sustainable business model had already attracted much attention (media, awards) and a halo effect established around the brand. Before InterfaceRAISE was created, companies were interested in the model, so this objective was already being large achieved. If InterfaceRAISE was expected to be financially sustainable, it would appear that insufficient resources have been allocated up to 2011, with revenue stream being directly affected by the limited capacity for ongoing business development (Toffell 2012, 18, exhibit 7).
Although not one of InterfaceRAISE’s three stated objectives, the case study makes mention in a number of places that Interfaced hoped that interactions with other companies would bring information and new ideas back to Interface. It is not possible for all three to be achieved simultaneously in a highly effective manner. A primary objective needs to be decided on and if this is to further Interface’s restorative goals, then InterfaceRAISE is substantially a marketing tool to support the Interface brand and achieve the this aspect of Interface’s vision and mission statement.
While some revenue will be generated, financial sustainability should not be an objective. The value of InterfaceRAISE is the Interface business model and Interface’s vision to ‘preach’ sustainability and restoration through influence. In addition, the language and approach used by Interface and InterfaceRAISE in regards to influencing others to convert to sustainable practices borders on the religious and philanthropic and this does not align with its financial goals. 3. What would you recommend to CEO Dan Hendrix with regard to strategy, service, offering, pricing and structure/staffing?
What would you request from Interface Inc. in terms of time and/or investment? Dan Hendrix wants more impact from InterfaceRAISE. My recommendation is for impact to be defined as increasing awareness of the Interface business model to achieve influence in sustainability and restoration. Then to develop a partnership with an established consulting organisation to implement sustainable business practices in other companies. Interface would benefit as this would meet its vision of restorative influence, as well as support the brand.
The current model of InterfaceRAISE supports this conclusion, drawing as it does on pro bono work from Interface employees as well as the emphasis on business development. This would remove the tension between business development and selling. Strategy: Use the Interface umbrella brand and established credibility to reduce perceived risk of switching to sustainable business model (Muylle). Conduct B2B relationship-based marketing of Interface’s business model and maximise opportunities to influence others to move to sustainability, therefore fulfilling restorative aspects of the Interface vision.
In developing a close partnership with an established sustainability consulting service, InterfaceRAISE will be able to be one step removed from the billing, while being able to provide first-hand experience and knowledge. Service: Speaking engagements (billed by InterfaceRAISE) Workshops designed to encourage clients to see through the sustainability lens (billed by InterfaceRAISE) Strategic consulting projects – collaborate with consultant partner to develop a program for a particular client, with a focus on industry expertise provided by subject matter experts within Interface (billed by consultancy)
Offering: Pricing: Unique experience in embedding a culture of sustainability into business practices at all levels with resulting strong values alignment (Hartzfeld 2010). Unique partnership with established sustainability consultant and industry leader. InterfaceRAISE will charge for speaking engagements. Once a client is identified, they will be directed to the environmental consultancy and a plan developed in consultation, and pricing will be determined and invoiced by the consultancy.
In this way, InterfaceRAISE will be able to attribute value to the Interface staff who previously worked pro bono for InterfaceRAISE. Structure/staffing: InterfaceRAISE Managing Director Dir. Business Development Project Manager – liaison Sustainability Consultant Deep understanding of Interface’s business model, application, culture, brand and vision. Able to work closely with InterfaceRAISE once their business development meant that a client wanted to utilse Interface’s business model and experience in their own business.
Interface Employees selected for specific projects to be seconded to InterfaceRAISE and their time to be billed for by the consultancy to the client. In terms of time and/or investment from Interface Inc. , there needs to be first of all an agreed position that InterfaceRAISE is not revenue generating, but adds substantially to Interface in meeting corporate vision, mission statement, values and supporting the brand. InterfaceRAISE is part of a broad marketing strategy and its direct value is in fortifying the environment and sustainable credential of Interface Inc.
Time of selected employees would be required. Employees would contribute towards specific projects and work with InterfaceRAISE and the sustainability consultancy and their hours would be billed for by the consultancy. Interface would be asked to release employees for a number of hours, and to recognise InterfaceRAISE work in the performance structure – an extrinsic reward. Interface would be asked to support the three positions of managing Director, Director of Business Development and Project Manager – Liaison.
Some revenue will be generated with the consulting partnership, however, the model will not be financially sustainable. 4. What should InterfaceRAISE’s goals be over the next five years? What metrics should they use to assess progress? Goals: To increase awareness of Interface’s brand and its sustainable business model, with emphasis on the synergy between environmentalism and capitalism. To launch a partnership with an established,credible sustainability consultant and develop close working relationship with the consultancy. Metrics:
Number of media articles about new partnership with consulting service Number of media articles about Interface’s sustainability and business model Number of booked speaking engagements and source of booking Number of clients converted from speaking engagements to consultancy Number of Interface staff hours utilised in consultancy work – also measure information exchange by employees reporting benefits Intrinsic reward of working on consultancy projects added to by recognition of this contribution within Interface’s performance structure
Measure decrease in environmental harm from companies that undertook the consultancy partnership as a metric of Interface’s reduction in net environmental harm (this will enable Interface to measure if the restorative vision aspect is being met). Conclusion Hartzfeld considered that a not-or-profit model was hypocritical as Interface preached that profit and sustainability were not mutually exclusive (Toffel 2012, 8). This position fails to differentiate between the manufacturing business model and the intrinsic value of the brand and raising awareness of this.
InterfaceRAISE did not have the structure or support to be highly effectively in meeting its core objective, to further Interface’s restorative goals. The other two stated objectives were not able to met effectively met either. In order to meet the primary objective effectively, the desired impact of InterfaceRAISE needs to be more clearly defined. Interface’s clear strength is its business model, and raising awareness of this meets the vision of restorative through influence.
The in-house consulting model was less successful in financial and other terms as it advised companies out of Interface’s core capability (manufacturing) and the resources allocated were insufficient for InterfaceRAISE to be financially sustainable. In addition, and more significantly, financially sustainability did not align with InterfaceRAISE’s structure (for example, the pro bono work) or Interface’s restorative vision. By removing the consultancy work but retaining a close working relationship, Interface RAISE can make use of Interface’s clear brand strength, maintain alignment while meeting the restorative vision.
Muylle, S. Dawar, N and Rangarajan, D. 2012 B2B Brand Architecture. California Management Review; Vol. 54 Issue 2, p58-71. Toffell, M. Essles, R and Taylor, C. 2012 InterfaceRAISE: Sustainability Consulting. Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA. www.interfaceglobal.com. 2008. Accessed 1 March 2013. Hartzfeld, J. Tedx talk. Tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxAtlanta-Jim-Hartzfeld-Resto. 2010. Accessed 1 March 2013.