Our Values: Sharpen the Pencil

This week’s value under the spotlight is “Sharpen the Pencil”, a philosophy of shared value
that allows us to achieve longevity and best possible outcomes for our clients.


This is what we have to say about this value in our values handbook:


We strive for purpose and meaning over profit, but it’s our commercial discipline that allows us to achieve our goals to change the world into a better place. Our experience has shown creating shared value is critical to the sustainability of community initiatives. Creating Communities aligns the interests and investments of stakeholders to deliver mutual benefit. We then walk alongside stakeholders and the community, to bring this into being.


Our Director of Research and Strategy Donna Shepherd explains why we use the metaphor of a sharpened pencil.


Why a pencil and a sharpener?

One doesn’t work without the other.

Communities shape clients and when engaged productively can help them deliver upon their aims.

Our job is to join the two.


Sharpen the Pencil to Create Shared Value


In any community initiative, shared value is at the forefront of our minds. We ask ourselves:


  • if our project delivers shared value,
  • how we can enable longevity in the solutions we offer,
  • what the social dividend for the client, the community and other stakeholder is, and
  • whether we are employing effective internal processes whilst working on the initiative.


Shared value is a different way of thinking for business. It goes beyond traditional mitigation and corporate social responsibility approaches which seek to reduce harm and invest in social projects and focuses instead on fundamentally improving both business and social outcomes – the creation of meaningful economic and social value.


Finding the shared value and the opportunity that exists there


Sharpening the pencil, to us, means that we create shared value in every one of our projects. This is important because we believe that there is always an opportunity sitting at the intersection of the interests of community, corporations and the needs of civil society. But it also brings other key benefits:


  • creates economic value while simultaneously addressing societal needs and challenges,
  • discovering inherent value at the nexus of community and business and how to develop it,
  • a social change which reaps benefits for business, and
  • a business initiative which delivers powerful benefits for the community.


Our Founding Director Allan Tranter knows what the benefits of shared value sustainability movements can be.


More than corporate social responsibility, these movements are demonstrating that business can and is creating a positive impact on the world, generating shared and durable benefits.


Creating Communities was an early pioneer in shared value creation, delivering a bankable competitive advantage for many businesses through discovering the opportunity for shared value outcomes that sits at the intersection of the interests of community, corporations and the needs of civil society.


To learn more about what we do and why we do it read our values handbook here or take a look at some of our other blog posts.