Overview of Part 3
Theoretical Configurations of the Four Bottom Lines
- Isolated Bottom Line(s)
- Intersecting Bottom Lines
- Integrated Bottom Lines
Some Real-World Configurations: Integrating the Four Bottom Lines
- Big Business
- Narcissistic Leaders
- Toxic Religion
- The “So What” Behind all the “What”
- “GenX Ministry” – A Mini-Case Study in Movement From Isolated to Intersecting to Integrating
Other Quadruple Bottom Line Resources
- The Barrett Values Centre
- EnviroMedia Social Marketing / The Green Canary
Tutorial #03 – How Can These Bottom Line Values Be (Re)Configured?
Overview of Part 3
Just because an individual or organization claims to value all four bottom lines, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all four are there, that all four are strong, or that all are integrated into a healthy system.
- What are some of the different configurations of bottom-line combinations – and not just in theory, but in real world practice?
- How can/do all four fit together?
- How can we make them more integrated?
- Why is transparency the hallmark of the conventional Triple Bottom Lines, and what does it even mean?
- Why is transcendency the hallmark of the fourth bottom line of spirituality, and what does that mean?
- If our organization is trying to move toward a more comprehensive and integrated approach to bottom lines, how do we do that?
My thoughts on Questions #1-3 are here in Part 3A, and in Part 3B on Real-World Configurations of the Four Bottom Lines. Thoughts on Questions #4-5 appear in Part 3C on Transparency, Transcendency, and Watching for the “Video” of Trajectory. A bonus section using movies to illustrate these ideas is in Part 4 Films and Bottom Line Configurations. Finally, Question #6 is a natural follow-through to the other five, and it is important at least to raise the issue here. However, since the answer belongs mostly in the forthcoming Transformational Index, I will leave the development of that topic to that system.
Meanwhile, it seems to me too soon into the new trend of the Triple Bottom Line tradition to analyze things well, but here are some initial interpretations that may turn out to be more speculation. But – it’s probably better to venture some ideas to get discussion going, than to say nothing until All Things Are Certain. Which, of course, they never will be in such a complex cultural phenomenon as this – even if we want everything to be perfectly clear. So, okay. Here we go …
Theoretical Configurations of the Four Bottom Lines
As I’ve thought about it, I believe there are three main ways that we can arrange the four bottom lines: isolated, intersecting, and integrating.
Isolated – There is no interaction or cross-pollination between however many bottom lines are adopted by an organization. Each is its own entity, and there is no push to have all four bottom lines.
Intersecting – At least two bottom lines combine, where each is seen as an equal partner in the fusion. (For instance, a project that both benefits people and stewards natural resources.)
Integrating – One or more bottom lines serve as the framework that all others fit into, and there is movement toward creating a comprehensive system, and incorporating at least three bottom lines, if not all four.
In this post and the next, I’ll illustrate these configurations with Venn diagram graphics that show the overlapping among elements in the bottom line, or lack thereof. I know not everyone will relate with these visuals, but it is important for some of us whose learning styles do not find verbal descriptions enough. (P.S. My apologies for the color inconsistencies in the images, especially where bottom line circles overlap and the colors should blend. Problems were due to the program I was using and my color inkjet printer.)
Part 4 will expand on these descriptions by illustrating with a few movies, for those whose learning styles are activated better by storylines. It will also have some do-it-yourself ideas to help us think through applications of these diagrams.
Isolated Bottom Line(s)
One possibility is to pick one or more bottom lines, and keep it/them isolated from the others.
This has been the conventional approach to life for the past era of modernity. In this paradigm, everything is segmented into its own place and space. You go to the office or store or barn or field to work. Your business life is separate from your spiritual involvements (if any), such as church. Likewise, these are typically separate from community service projects or organizations, which are typically based on some other affinity (though you might have a bowling league with people from your office, something like that). And all of these are compartmentalized – pushed away from anything you do in the outdoors, such as leisure activities or environmental service work.
Intersecting Bottom Lines
As a holistic perspective emerges in a culture, the walls of compartmentalization break down. This often occurs very slowly, as those of the conventional segmented paradigm gradually adjust to the new holistic assumptions. (Actually, this may take a few generations before it is significantly in place for those entering the “post-conventional” paradigm – or before their generation expires and the next-and-more-holistic generations take up the baton of a community’s leadership.) When the barriers between things break down, the bottom line values start intersecting. Eventually, two, three, or even all four bottom lines show areas of overlapping.
In my sense of the history of how a Quadruple Bottom Line emerged (presented in Part 3-2 of this series), it seems society was the first to intersect with the main value of business. This intersection emerged with the many rights-and-liberation movements of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.
Ecology eventually entered the picture and intersected with values of business and society. This new involvement emerged with the environmental protection movements of the 1960s and ’70s.
Finally, spirituality is just now in the early stages of being talked about explicitly as a bottom line value, though it seems apparent (to me, at least) that the vocabulary of imagination, hope, and a future has been building since the 1980s and ’90s. And this is not simply the language of humanism, but something deeper and more transcendent.
At the level of intersecting, it looks like the four bottom lines maintain a sort of “peer status” – all seemingly hold equal value. While that may be possible in theory, I’d have to wonder if that’s how it works out in the real world. I suspect it’s more typical that one of the four becomes or stays more prominent, and that the other ones get absorbed into it. That doesn’t mean they disappear. Rather, that main one becomes the “root” from which the others grow … the underneath system that supports their flourishing. And that idea of one dominant root bottom line lies behind the concept of integrating bottom lines.
Integrated Bottom Lines
I chose the metaphor of a root specifically for its relation to other words, like radix – the taproot or key component in a plant – and radical. A system of values that is integrated within one main value or bottom line is more radical than one in which the elements all co-exist and are taken as equals.
What comes to mind when I ask, What organizations or movements have that root or radical commitment to …
The economy and making a profit? Wall Street, America’s banking system, global agribusiness, global pharmaceutical companies.
Society and helping people? The United Nations, Amnesty International.
The environment and saving the planet? Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, Smokey the Bear, Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Spirituality and the transcendent paradox of relations between us and God, gods, spirit beings, or other powers external to us? United Religions Initiative, World Council of Churches, Shiite Islam, Feng Shui.
Basically, whatever bottom line acts as the integrating force for an organization will have all other elements revolving around it. All other organizational resources ultimately serve to enhance this main bottom line. Of course there are different degrees of how “radical” a group or organization is in its commitment to their root value. And it is possible that several bottom lines could work interactively as integrating forces for an organization’s activities.
As examples, a migrant farmworkers’ union and the Kiva micro-loan system each focus on seeking to better both the economic and social potentials of workers. Or, for a different set of integrating bottom lines, there are ecologically sustainable businesses that offer social enterprises, such as Tom’s Shoes, which minimizes its carbon footprint while creating shoes that provide one pair donated to a child in a developing country who needs shoes for each pair purchased (and Tom and team members present the children with their shoes in person, and personally put the new shoes on the children’s feet).
So, for the purposes of this topic, I am defining “integrated” as having one bottom line that serves to integrate the others – one that is more prominent and in which the others exist. The larger/outer one is the “integration point” for the others. Not all three others are necessarily on the inside, but whichever ones are inside can show up as isolated from each other, or intersecting one or more, while being integrated around (being intersected by) the larger bottom line.
Here are the two key integrating patterns possible. The first one has all the other three bottom lines integrated inside it. The second one has at least one bottom line not integrated inside it. Either it is off the radar entirely, or there is an awareness of it and thus perhaps the possibility to integrate it eventually. (If something is not prominent or actually is off-the-radar, that may be represented by either a dotted line for the image border . A major bottom line is noted with a capital letter and a minimized bottom line shows up with a small letter instead of a capital letter. A question mark represents a decision that needs to be made or a choice already made that is quite unclear.)
Once you’ve thought through those, consider this set, and how it looks when one specific bottom line serves as the boundary in which the other three are integrated. Note how the color of the “integration point” bottom line affects the color of other three … for those who enjoy color theory, this should prove fun to think about!
Okay, so those are the three core approaches to dealing with the four bottom lines: isolated, intersecting, and integrating. In the next post, I’ll show how this theory unfolds in practical ways in the real world. For instance, how values can appear integrated into a Quadruple Bottom Line, but in fact still revolve around profiteering, power, or pseudo-spirituality.
Some Real-World Configurations:
Integrating the Four Bottom Lines
I trust you don’t me to fill in all the possibilities of how these patterns look in real-world situations. (That’s your cue to spend some time identifying relevant instances from your own experience.) I’m just giving a few examples to illustrate the ideas, and reinforce why I believe it is ultimately practical to move toward a more comprehensive Quadruple Bottom Line, integrated around the bottom line of Spirituality. The examples here are:
- Big Business
- Narcissistic Leaders
- Toxic Religion
I’ll also suggest why bottom line expansion and integration is critical for the Church. Finally, I’ll introduce an eventual case study on how “edge” ministry in the Church of America has unfolded over the last 15 years, and why this study is important for us in understanding the times and discerning what we should do.
Sometimes the Triple Bottom Line is still really about money, and it uses the presence (or appearance) of the social and ecological bottom line to integrate its marketing. But social and ecological are minor elements internally in the system, and spirituality is basically invisible still and outside the system.
Actually, the above “Big Business” configuration could look very similar for a narcissistic leader who, in a Christian environment, puts on the appearance of godliness, but denies the true power thereof. His or her motives may be personal power, influence, and/or affluence. So, giving the look of a balanced and holistic leader will ensnare people who are, unfortunately, vulnerable because they are compassionate, naïve, and/or self-doubting. The system may look “Christ-centered,” but in reality it is pseudo-Christlike leader-centered.
A similar problem lies behind what is being called “greenwashing.” Greenwashing occurs when a business uses people’s concern for the environment to get them to buy the company’s pseudo-ecological products. The configuration for integration looks very similar to the one above, except that maybe “E” for environment is a lot more prominent. However, it is still just a part inside the realm of business, and not a partner with it. Business can be hiding behind a façade of social justice or environmental stewardship, when, actually, it’s still really just all about the business and profiteering.
Toxic religion can manifest a configuration that appears integrated, but isn’t. Toxic religion can say it integrates around true spirituality, but it actually hides behind a façade of business accountability and conventional CEO management and corporate-style leadership. This typically denies social responsibilities in the church. It does not equip disciples to take on the ministries for which God designed them and gave them spiritual gifts to accomplish. It also typically denies ecological responsibilities by creating expensive, inefficient, and unsustainable models that are wasteful Kingdom resource equivalents of driving a gas-guzzling SUV or Humvee vehicle in a locale that has few gas stations.
The “So What” Behind all the “What”
In the midst of all these details and images and examples, it’s easy to lose track of what might be the most important question of all:
Why is bottom line expansion and integration important for the Church and the Kingdom?
This gives us frameworks for understanding the current cultural setting for churches. It also gives us some tools to use in sparking transformation toward a system based on a holistic and healthy integrated Quadruple Bottom Line.
The sorts of dual, or perhaps triple, integrating bottom line system we looked at earlier seem far more likely in a society where a holistic paradigm is prominent. And that is the direction in which cultures are moving at the international level. Western cultures are expanding from merely economy-focused to ecologically-minded, communal, and spiritual (i.e., moving past individualism to connection, reflection, and pro-action). Non-Western cultures are expanding from communal and perhaps spiritual and ecological to more economic development. In short, the global community around us is moving from intersecting to integrated bottom lines.
Meanwhile, in the post-Christendom, post-modernity West, we in the American Church are mostly only just now starting to move from isolated bottom lines to intersecting bottom lines. I realize this is a very broad statement, and the wider one’s conclusion, the more contrary details to it others can find. But, if we are going to take a single-measure reading of the Church in America, I believe it is undeniable that we are, as a whole, far behind the times in understanding and responding to major shifts in the cultures of our setting. This applies both to conventionally organized churches (i.e., institutional models) and forward-looking churches (i.e., more organic or “emerging” models).
However, I believe the Church in the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand regions are several generations ahead of America in terms of adjusting to a post-Christendom culture. They are also working far more at the level of integrating than we are. Likewise, the Church in Canada is also at least one generation ahead of us in America, in terms of post-Christendom culture and on moving from intersecting to integrating.
Institutional organizations like politics, education, and religion are known to be the slowest to change. This is understandable, but it is not commendable. How can Christians or the Church or churches be seen as leaders in society if we remain consistently behind the curve of constructive change? (Granted, not all change is constructive, but the integration of three or four bottom lines certainly seems to be “not far from the Kingdom” because it captures more of what God states in Scripture that He values.)
There is a lot of “so what” behind all the “what” details of a Quadruple Bottom line. And we will not get to the next stage of practical and constructive “now what” actions if we haven’t yet considered the consequences of the “what” and “so what” stages.
“GenX Ministry” – A Mini-Case Study in Movement From Isolated to Intersecting to Integrating
This concept of transformation from isolated bottom lines to intersecting to integrating actually provides a very practical framework for interpreting our times. For instance, it has helped me better understand the development of holistic ministry movements since the mid-1990s.
At some future time, I will post an extended case study on this important historical period in the Church in America. It will address how – from my perspective as a semi-insider – “GenX” ministry became “post-modern” ministry, which became “emerging” ministry, which then sifted itself out into pre-existing paradigm layers like Emergent (where bottom lines range from isolated to intersecting), missional (where bottom lines range from intersecting to integrating), and “post-postmodern”/holistic (where bottom lines are mostly integrating).
But that is a complex project that requires a lot of time to sort through key historical documents and my own very messy observations taken during the middle of the events as they were unfolding. I don’t have free time available for that at the moment. So, for the time being, all I will note is mostly what I’ve already hinted at in the prior paragraphs, that:
- There has been some significant movement toward expanding the number of bottom lines valued and more integrating of them.
- There are multiple layers of paradigms now, each with a different approach to how it treats its bottom line values and goals.
- Critiques and advocates of new-edge ministry alike often do not recognize the different paradigm layers in contemporary ministry work and where they came from. So, the critiquers frequently lump everything together and declare it all harmful, and enthusiasts frequently lump everything together and declare it all healthy. Neither analysis is fully accurate, so its insights may hurt as much as they help.
- Not all of these layers necessarily have long-term survivability or sustainability. So, we need to carefully consider our paradigm, biblical mandates, and our cultural settings if we want to avoid the polar opposite problems of our culture controlling us and us controlling our culture.
When I’m able to get this case study completed, I’ll come back and link to it.
Other Quadruple Bottom Line Resources
The four bottom lines represent four core values that benefit:
- people – through creating community,
- planet – through stewardship ecology,
- profits – through justly earned economy, and
- personal transformation – through deepening spirituality.
The following material links to online websites and tutorials about the quadruple bottom line. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the Triple Bottom Line for additional background.
We need to realize that the concept of a quadruple bottom line is relatively new, and those organizations that pursue a fourth bottom line may not always put it in terms of “spirituality” or “transcendence.” Instead, they may use a language of values, consciousness, cultural change, and personal transformation. We can expect the definitions and descriptions of the quadruple bottom line concept to clarify in years to come. However, for now, we’ll still have to deal with language that is “squishy” and intuitive rather than precise and analytic.
The Barrett Values Centre
The Barrett Values Centre is perhaps one of the longest-running cultural transformation development and consulting organizations that works with what could be considered a quadruple bottom line – even if they might not explicitly describe their system in exactly those terms. But, they address conscience and “consciousness” and values. That places them beyond the realm of just three bottom lines and into the fourth. Their site is well worth browsing,. They have an extensive set of PDF downloads available, including on relevant subjects of both theory and practice, case studies, charts, etc. The following excerpt overview comes from their Who We Are/About page:
The Values Centre website was created by Barrett Values Centre to provide information on the application of the Barrett Seven Levels of Consciousness Model and the Cultural Transformation Tools ® to the cultural transformation of corporations, non-profits, NGO’s, government institutions, schools, communities and nations, as well to provide details on the use of the model and tools for personal transformation and leadership development.
Barrett Values Centre was created in June 1997 to support leaders in building values-driven organisations. Since then, Barrett Values Centre has created a series of Cultural Transformation Tools ® (CTT) for mapping values, measuring cultural capital, and implementing cultural transformation.
At the heart of the Cultural Transformation Tools ® lies the Barrett Seven Levels of Consciousness Model developed by Richard Barrett. The model is used to map the personal values of employees and their perception of the current and desired culture values of the organisation. The model is also used to map the values of teams and any other group of individuals who share a common heritage or purpose. The specific application of this model to corporations, government agencies, non-profits, NGO’s, schools, classrooms, nations and communities can be found on this website.
EnviroMedia Social Marketing / The Green Canary
EnviroMedia Social Marketing has a long-standing commitment to the triple bottom line, and their focus on values and cultural transformation would put them near or into the fourth bottom line. They have a special emphasis on ecology and going green, and spun off . Browse their websites for
The following overview comes from their EnviroMedia Who We Are page:
Welcome to a radically different kind of advertising and P.R. agency. One built on the passionate belief that doing the right thing isn’t just the right thing, but a powerful business advantage. We’re considered champions of authentic green marketing and are leaders in behavior-changing social marketing campaigns that improve the environment and public health. We’re also the people behind the Greenwashing Index – the world’s first online forum that allows consumers to post and rate the authenticity of real green ads.
While most of the world is just now catching up to the power and necessity of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, we got an early start. Since 1997, we’ve been turning our commitment to environmental, public health and quality of life issues into measurable results for government, nonprofits and businesses.
With offices in Texas and Oregon, we reach our clients’ goals through an integrated package of in-house services including research, branding, creative campaign development, corporate public affairs, media relations, community outreach, experiential marketing, Web design/programming and media planning and buying. If you’re looking for behavior-change marketing specialists, or are ready to tell your business’s sustainability story in a transparent way, please contact us. If you’re a business just getting started with green issues, check out our subsidiary, Green Canary Sustainability Consulting.
Here is a mission statement from their Green Canary home page: “We help clients evolve toward sustainability by providing strategic analysis, innovative business and operational solutions, and the communications upport to fully integrate new ways of thinking into your organizational culture.”
One thing both EnviroMedia and Green Canary stress is that a culture of transformation can only emerge when it is in the DNA of a business’s or agency’s organizational structures and systems. (As business author Price Pritchett states in The Ethics of Excellence, “The organization can never be something the people are not.”) Here is a provocative quote on that issue from Green Canary’s Communications and Training page:
“Many great organizations have launched ambitious sustainability initiatives only to see them wither away in a short time. The reason is simple. Your company is not defined by the initiatives it undertakes – it is defined by its culture. And to make sustainability work, it needs to be integrated into that framework.”
© 2010 Brad Sargent. All rights reserved.