It’s Just Good Business #1 – Definitions + Context

Question: Why focus on more than making money in business?

The short answer: It’s just good business!

Over the course of the next several months through articles, blog entries, social media posts, various presentations and a 6-week telecourse entitled It’s Just Good Business, I will elaborate on the short answer and, ideally, build a convincing case for the power ofConscious Capitalism and the practice of Working for Good – doing good business by focusing on more than making money.

I will begin to define key themes and outline the context for this exploration.

Definition

The first step – to define business. Business is a form of human social organization: people getting together for a purpose; to do something together; to deliver value to themselves and others. Business is an outlet for creative expression, a structure and process for turning ideas into products and services; and a vehicle for creating wealth – financial, material, intellectual, technological, social, even spiritual wealth – for individuals and society.

In the most simple sense, “good business” = making money by delivering products and services that people want, that create value for others.

Evolving Context: The Age of Interdependence

The catch is, creating value for others is becoming more complex. Functionality and reliability were once sufficient to satisfy customers. A paycheck and benefits were once sufficient to satisfy employees. Creating jobs and paying taxes were once sufficient for satisfying communities. Generating high ROI was once sufficient for investors.

As our technologies, our social-economic systems, our scientific understandings, and our daily lives become more complex, so too do our brains, our perspectives and our wants and needs, as individuals, communities and societies and, perhaps, as a species.

The idea of interdependence is becoming broadly and deeply recognized as an essential principle of nature and life, and we feel its effects in our daily lives. A financial crisis in one part of the world or one sector of the economy creates ripples throughout the global economy. Natural disasters release toxic wastes that threaten ecosystems and communities in distant lands. Social unrest in one country or continent spills into neighboring countries and distant continents. Technological advances in a laboratory or garage anywhere transform the way billions of people communicate with each other and the possibilities for how we live our lives.

This recognition of interdependence and its effects evokes strong responses from individuals and communities (both geographical communities and communities of shared perspective and interest). Key stakeholders in the ecosystem of business – customer/citizens and employees in particular – increasingly demand that business (in general and the specific businesses with which they engage) recognize this interdependence, consider the effects of their products, services and processes on people and the environment, both now and in the future.

86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests. Social purpose continues to rank as the number one deciding factor for global consumers above design, innovation and brand loyalty.

64% believe it is no longer enough for corporations to give money; they must integrate good causes into their everyday business.

~ 2010 Edelman goodpurpose© Study

84% of Americans believe their ideas can help companies create products and services that are a win for consumers, business and society; yet, only half (53%) feel companies are effectively encouraging them to speak up on corporate social and environmental practices and products.

~ 2010 Cone Shared Responsibility Study

Stakeholders increasingly expect that companies have an explicit purpose, with a social dimension, that drives their business. They expect companies to create value, beyond the goods and services they deliver and to consider and address their impact of their business on the environment.

The Bottom Line

In the emerging Conscious Capitalism economy, making money requires more than focusing on making money.

In the next post in this series, I will explore the “Conscious” and “Capitalism” in Conscious Capitalism and outline the principles of Conscious Capitalism.