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If You Want to Go Far, You Need to Go Deep: A Framework of Impact Archetypes

Generation Impact

ISBN: 978-1-78973-930-5, eISBN: 978-1-78973-929-9

Publication date: 8 January 2021


This chapter is about helping you provide a solid platform for your organisation to engage with impact, by shining a light on what sits behind the decisions you make. This chapter will firstly set out why focussing on societal impact, whilst historically relevant, is really not a natural thing for today's organisations – in a sense, it goes against everything we have told ourselves about business for the past number of decades. At the same time, uniting the energy of an organisation to drive positive wellbeing impact is where the heart of the current revolution to address our multifaceted sustainability crises lies. It is a challenge we must rise to.

Many useful frameworks of sustainability/corporate responsibility maturity exist that can help us think about impact (e.g., Schaltegger, Hansen, & Lüdeke-Freund, 2015; Baumgartner & Ebner, 2010; Ainsbury & Grayson, 2014). This chapter extends this by delving deeper into the underlying economic mental models that structure existing organisational decision-making logics regarding impact. It outlines three archetypes of impact logic and the level of impact you would expect to be able to achieve if you operate from each one. All three sit within a ‘capitalist’ approach. Two of them are tightly bounded with neo-classical economic assumptions that have dominated business, the third marks a seismic break with these assumptions. In clarifying these archetypes, this chapter sets a trajectory that leaders can follow if they want to move towards delivering greater impact. The leadership lesson is that when it comes to delivering impact, if you want to go far, you have to go deep.

Business enterprises…are organs of society. They do not exist for their own sake, but to fulfil a specific social purpose and to satisfy a specific need of a society, a community or individuals.

Drucker (1974, p. 39).




Whilst any errors are entirely my own, parts of this work have been informed by collaborations with a range of wise people particularly Mario Abelo, Rick Alexander, Carole Bond, Charlie Ebert, John Elkington, Sue Garrard, Professor David Grayson, Philippe, Joubert, Tony Juniper, Ben Kellard, Axel Kravatzky, Soulla Kyriacou, Chris Nichols, Jeremy Nicholls, Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Hugh Pidgeon, Jonathon Porritt, Sarah Rozenthuler, Tina Senior, Rosie Warin, Charlotte West, Professor David Wheeler, Andrew Wilson, Charles Wookey and Professor Manjit Yadav.


Hurth, V. (2021), "If You Want to Go Far, You Need to Go Deep: A Framework of Impact Archetypes", Richards, A. and Nicholls, J. (Ed.) Generation Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 237-256.



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