Last weekend I joined an informational webcast with the intention glancing through the content and I ended up spending almost two hours listening to a dialogue between John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and Rob Smith, CEO of Integral Life on an unusual topic of Business and Love.
The interesting dialogue among these visionaries, leaders & trend makers was about the changing trends of the 21st century businesses.
Conscious Business – What’s that?
Getting in touch with the businesses’ higher purpose.
…. and, what can that be?
It is the notion of tapping into a business’ uniqueness. It is about offering something in a contagiously positive way to itself, stakeholders (customers, partners, suppliers, business/functional groups, individual employees etc) and society at large. Just like an individual works to explore its higher purpose, it’s a constant unfolding and constant deepening journey for an organization to explore and unfold its optimal purpose for existence within the society.
….the dialogue between John and Rob revealed a few practical ways leaders can grow goodness & purpose-driven business practice.
- Explore & revisit the purpose for your business, venture or project that is a bit more than just making shareholders money and beyond the classically understood bottom line. Most businesses lose their sense of purpose getting busy in the race of creating economic value. Creating economic value is a basic necessity, a good one, though growing number of successful organizations in today’s market are winning with a viral effect of ‘doing good’ due to being in touch with its purpose.
- Understand and adopt the stakeholder philosophy by considering customer, suppliers, partners & workers all part of the beneficiary ecosystem and by understanding their interdependencies.
- Be a conscious leader and demonstrate authentic leadership. Understand the relationships and manage the business in order to optimize stakeholder & social values. Setup strategies, processes and structures to reinforce the purpose and stakeholder philosophy.
Create a culture that reflects its higher purpose. Purpose energizes people. Organizations that are activated by a purpose, their energy becomes infectious – which is the essential element for 21st century organizations.
For Profit Sector Learning from Not-for-Profit Organizations
John Mackey further shared his views on how profit-generating businesses can learn much from the not-for-profit organizations. General assumption is that NFP are more in touch with its purpose than for profit organizations. For example, doctors working non-for-profit purely work towards healing sick people, similarly, educators are inspired to educate people. It seems simple, the purpose seems noble. It’s unfortunate, culturally we don’t see profit generating businesses in the same way. Businesses in general are a collection of individuals, in pursuit for a purpose. And in most cases, it is possible to find and maintain the higher purpose for the existence of any business, organization, factory, institute or a solo project, no matter what the business is about.
Few Good Examples
Container Store and Whole Foods aim for conscious capitalism
Aug 2010 , Dallas News http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/080810dnbusconsciouscapitalism.2e04c6a.html
Google | Zappos |Samovar Lounge: On the frontiers of conscious movement & sustainability, Jul 2010, Conscious Sustainability Blog http://www.conscioussustainability.com/2010/07/124/
Microsoft uses the term ‘conscious businesses’ identifying its needs and offering a software product for environment sustainability http://www.microsoft.com/environment/business_solutions/articles/dynamics_ax.aspx