Authenticity in Action: Planned Impact vs. the Deception of Perceived Impact

Authenticity in Action: Planned Impact vs. the Deception of Perceived Impact

In today’s increasingly conscious business landscape, the concepts of ‘planned impact’ and ‘perceived impact’ are more relevant than ever. These terms, reminiscent of the planned and perceived obsolescence in products, paint a vivid picture of the divergent paths businesses can take in their pursuit of making a difference. However, while one leads to tangible change and sustainable growth, the other risks reputational damage and loss of trust.

Planned Impact: The Path of Measurable Change

Planned impact is the heart of authentic, responsible business practice. It involves setting clear, measurable goals for positive change, whether environmental, social, or economic. These objectives are rooted in concrete actions and transparent progress, akin to the ethos behind sustainable practices. Businesses that focus on planned impact don’t just set lofty goals; they work diligently towards achieving them, while actively mitigating any adverse effects. This approach not only contributes to a healthier planet and society but also strengthens the business by aligning its operations with its values.

Perceived Impact: The Risk of Purpose-Washing

On the other side of the spectrum lies perceived impact, often labeled as purpose-washing or green-washing. This involves companies proclaiming commitment to certain values or changes, yet their actions lead to little or no tangible outcomes. It’s an approach heavy on words and intentions but light on actual impact. While this might offer short-term PR benefits, it can lead to significant long-term repercussions.

The Reputational Hazard: Walking the Talk

The discrepancy between planned and perceived impact can severely damage a company’s reputation. Today’s consumers are more informed and discerning; they can spot inauthenticity and are quick to call out companies that don’t walk their talk. This gap can lead to negative publicity, consumer backlash, and a loss of trust – all of which are hard to recover from.

Impact on Customer Loyalty and Employee Pride

Customers today seek to align with brands that reflect their values. When businesses claim to stand for something but fail to demonstrate it, customer loyalty can waver. Similarly, employees want to work for companies that are genuine in their efforts to make a difference. A gap between claimed and actual impact can diminish employee pride and engagement, impacting productivity and talent retention.

Stakeholder Interests at Stake

For stakeholders, from investors to partners, the alignment between a company’s stated goals and its actions is crucial. Discrepancies here can lead to strained relationships, reduced investment, and a questioning of the company’s long-term viability.

The Way Forward: Authenticity and Accountability

The way forward for businesses is clear: authenticity and accountability. It’s not enough to claim impact; companies must plan, act, measure, and report on their progress. By doing so, they contribute positively to the world and build stronger, more resilient, and more trusted brands.

In conclusion, the difference between planned and perceived impact is vast, with significant implications for businesses. In an era where authenticity is king, only those who commit to their impact goals and transparently work towards them will thrive and build lasting legacies.


  • Edwin Korver

    Edwin Korver is a polymath celebrated for his mastery of systems thinking and integral philosophy, particularly in intricate business transformations. His company, CROSS-SILO, embodies his unwavering belief in the interdependence of stakeholders and the pivotal role of value creation in fostering growth, complemented by the power of storytelling to convey that value. Edwin pioneered the RoundMap®, an all-encompassing business framework. He envisions a future where business harmonizes profit with compassion, common sense, and EQuitability, a vision he explores further in his forthcoming book, "Leading from the Whole."

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