These are indeed challenging times in our industry. As has been chronicled in these articles, the public doesn’t trust that the industry is serving their interests, and opposition to land development projects because of social and environmental concerns is running at an all-time high. To make matters worse, industry professionals don’t trust each other to behave in mutually beneficial ways. The predictable result is that none of the interested parties are achieving their goals.
Mitigating these problems clearly drags projects from concept to completion, adding both time and cost. Aligning business, social and environmental issues can often seem like a daunting, if not impossible, task. The purpose of SLDI, on behalf of the industry, is not only to deliver more effective tools for industry professionals to deal with these issues, but to be such an instrument itself.
For example, industry professionals who align themselves with an organization like SLDI and who seek commonality among divergent viewpoints establish a solid foundation that can facilitate the free and open discussion of land development opportunities among various stakeholders. Further, the positive benefits of engaging all stakeholder groups as a member of a sustainable organization such as SLDI are immeasurable. But SLDI is more than a powerful public relations tool – much more.
Business – with a Purpose
One of the things that make SLDI unique is that it combines a purposeful industry mission with the embracing of business-like discipline, capitalistic innovation, and the pursuit of economic gain to achieve greater benefits for members. Many governmental and non-profit efforts have fallen far short of the industry’s expectations and needs. Major sector institutions are often viewed as inefficient, ineffective, and unresponsive. Or worse yet, they are fundamentally ill-equipped to meet today’s changing needs.
SLDI is an industry-led organization of stakeholders joining together to promote land development around the world that balances the needs of people, planet and profit – for today and future generations.
Formed as a result of strong industry desire to no longer be pulled along by specific stakeholder agendas, but rather, take the lead on important industry issues, SLDI will leverage the proven business platforms provided by industry leaders and combine them with new vehicles and enabling technologies to provide the following benefits to the land development industry:
- an enhanced ability to develop effective relationships throughout the development process;
- ability to gain knowledge from a centralized and comprehensive resource to facilitate holistic development processes;
- ready opportunities to implement the body of knowledge in ways that create economic value for all stakeholders;
- available technologies that create real value throughout the development process;
- positive public relations opportunities
- and much more.
Leadership Through Cooperation
More than ever before, land development is a fragmented, increasingly specialized and adversarial system that has moved farther away from a cooperative orientation. This has made today’s most pressing problems increasingly difficult to solve.
SLDI provides industry stakeholders of all disciplines a new opportunity to work together in new ways to replace barriers, rivalries, and distrust with teamwork and partnerships. A group of people does not make a team. A team outperforms a group, and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members.
Cooperative teamwork encourages an open exchange of ideas and generates integrated, whole-system solutions. In order to facilitate meaningful multi-stakeholder cooperation on the deepest levels, SLDI has organized itself as a member-owned for-profit cooperative. Industry professionals have the opportunity to earn an ownership stake in the organization through educational achievement, receive profit distributions, and participate in the governance of the organization. At the same time, they gain knowledge, recognition, access to unique technologies and valuable industry product and service opportunities. The relationships within this unique organizational structure can be visually depicted in the diagram to the right.
The multi-faceted mission of incorporating a member-shared profit motive with an industry-wide purpose is the core of what distinguishes SLDI from non-profit associations, socially responsible businesses, and even for-profit privately owned businesses.
The fundamental purpose for SLDI is to improve the quality of life for society, the active pursuit of private and public wealth creation, and the achievement of environmental stewardship. This is what the public demands of the industry. But each of these is a means to an end, not the end in itself. The members of SLDI are working together not just for our own legacy, but also for the lasting legacies of generations yet to come.
Republished from the February, 2008 issue of Sustainable Land Development Today magazine