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Hidden in plain sight – broader outcomes

Some people we’ve talked to recently seem uncertain or dubious about the concept of broader outcomes – both in the sense of what the term refers to, but also querying the NZ government’s commitment to the concept.

This post is intended to demystify the term and give you various tangible sources of inspiration for what good looks like in both a public and private sector context.

The term broader outcomes

Broader outcomes are talked about a lot by various public entities. We find it’s helpful to think about primary versus secondary benefits from a project or service to be delivered.

Primary benefits are those that the project or service is intended to deliver directly (ie we’re concerned about quality, timeliness, costs versus estimates, risk allocation, etc).

Secondary benefits are what we mean when we refer to broader outcomes – specifically what are the wider social, economic, cultural and/or environmental benefits (or otherwise reduction of harm) that we are seeking in the communities and environment that relates to the service or project. These secondary public benefits could be in the form of greater access to employment & skills development, targeted community support, environmental/climate mitigation, supplier diversity into contract awards, etc.

There seems to be a heightened focus on the need to deliver wider public or secondary benefits at the moment for a few key reasons: the ever-widening income-inequality gap, which has particular impacts on certain socio-cultural groups; climate change and environmental degradation, which few can deny has hit its tipping point; and COVID itself seems to have spurred a wider appreciation and concern for societal issues. As much as we would like to focus in on our current political regime, this focus is not unique to New Zealand. It’s happening in all regions around the world and in many ways, we are a laggard in certain areas of social procurement, supplier diversity and climate action when compared to other countries.

Public sector examples

There are many examples of large, public infrastructure asset delivery that have secondary public benefits integrated into them, but that aren’t always noticed by you and me.

The one we wanted to start with is the Auckland City Rail Link project. It is New Zealand’s largest ever transport infrastructure project. Most Aucklanders will only notice the significant disruption to small business owners and road access in and around Albert Street. What they may not appreciate are the secondary public benefits this project is committed to. See the following link which highlight the various social outcomes City Rail Link is delivering:

Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency is an exemplar of broader outcomes procurement in our view amongst the various public entities. This starts at the top in terms of commitment with the CEO, Nicole Rosie, and filters down throughout the organisation. See the following page with numerous resources, including a video on the Te Ahu a Turanga Manawatū Tararua Highway project:

Another public entity that’s delivery plan is inextricably linked to broader social and cultural outcomes is Kāinga Ora. See the following succinct overview of one of its developments from 2020 and how it delivers on various social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes:

You can see many more examples of broader outcomes on MBIE’s all of government procurement website as well as the Accord’s Beacon Projects – such as this insightful explanation from Inland Revenue:

In each of the above cases, it’s not just the government entity that is driving this. There are numerous developers, contractors and professional services firms who are all involved and giving effect to broader outcomes delivery.

Private sector context

We wanted to highlight some examples from private sector organisations who are delivering wider positive impact in what they do (what we refer to as having a Net Positive Impact). Rather than being driven by a government tender requirement, each of these examples are motivated by a sense of corporate purpose that this is a good thing to do. We’ve also chosen these examples because their activities and progress directly relate to the company’s underlying business model and utilise their core expertise, rather than being more traditional CSR activities:

Goodman Property – sustainability is core to the organisation’s development and property holding philosophy. A particular example in action is Goodman’s recent brownfields acquisition and regeneration of the former Foodstuffs Roma Road site in Mt Roskill. See the link and PDF case study below. Speaking to Andy Eakin, CFO, we understand that with NZ Post as the anchor tenant of Roma Road, they are now committed to wider social procurement in addition to their environmental sustainability focus. See further details here:

Microsoft NZ and its Hikohiko digital skills development partnership with TupuToa. The programme is currently in pilot phase and is providing digital skills training to thousands of people from Māori & Pacific communities across Aotearoa, to help them achieve careers with technology. See details here:

Interestingly, even though Microsoft is a major supplier to the NZ government, this initiative was not founded due to any requirement from a government RFP or contractual obligation. The driver was instead Microsoft’s global EDI programme and how locally in New Zealand, they’ve chosen to align with Māori and Pacific digital skills development as a key focus area.

Milford Foundation, which was recently established by Milford Asset Management. We like how they are using their existing investment skills and platform to: “strengthen New Zealand communities through the lenses of youth, education and environment. Through a combination of investment expertise, our generous donor community, a commitment to efficiency, effectiveness and transparency, and strong partnerships, we can – and will – make a meaningful impact for New Zealand’s future generations.”

Another similar organisation that exemplifies the use of its own skillsets and business model is Mediaworks and its Mediaworks Foundation. From the website: "The MediaWorks Foundation partners with selected charities to develop strategies and projects that generate mass-awareness, measurable impact as well as donations from the public to support our vision. We help by leveraging our scale, reach and brands to shine the spotlight on the issues, as well as the initiatives that will make a difference. Within a framework, we use our resources: our people, brands and share of voice (including $4.65million of media resources) to unite New Zealanders with the intention of affecting positive and measurable outcomes."

Note: The Bridge had no direct involvement in any of these cases– we just think they’re great examples of a trend that is likely to increase over time.

Two final tips for your own focus

As mentioned previously, if you want to make a real impact the answer lies in examining your own business model and core expertise. Get creative and you might even develop (further) areas of sustainable competitive advantage.

Don’t wait to be asked - either by your government client in an RFP or for the market to compel you. Those who are proactive and weave this into their value proposition and overall branding will be at a significant advantage.

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