A Feeling of Worth

Why do you do?

Shaking hands 878566_s 123RF“How do you do?” That statement was an integral part of my upbringing.  My parents taught us to say that whenever we met someone new.  And it is so ingrained that even today it is what I say when I meet someone for the first time.

I realise now that it is possibly peculiar to my British upbringing. Certainly it does not appear to be universal. I remember being rather taken aback by the response when living in Canada. There people took it much more literally and almost invariably responded, “ I am good, thank you.”  Yet despite this the habit remains!  

Now, you are no doubt wondering what brought this up, and why I am writing about this here and what relevance it could possibly have, so let me explain.

Continue reading "Why do you do?" »

How to create shared value

In a thought provoking article in the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer claim that capitalism is under attack because business is "widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community." I don't think anyone in their right mind would challenge that statement.

Porter and Kramer argue that in neoclassical thinking a requirement for social improvement poses a constraint on the corporation and inevitably raises prices. The developing alternative is something they call "The Notion of Externalities." They explain externalities as social costs that business does not have to bear, such as pollution. Society imposes taxes, regulation and taxes to try to get companies to "internalise" these issues and change their behaviour: with similar results. (Actually a point I made in my book "A Feeling of Worth" albeit maybe not quite so succinctly.)

In what is an implicit argument against tax as an instrument of policy, Porter and Kramer talk about the concept of shared values. They claim that this recognises that "societal needs, not just conventional economic needs, define markets." They claim that rather than being a redistribution approach, "shared value is about expanding the total pool of economic and social value."

CSR 3 They argue that rather than making these social issues a cost this will impel companies to find solutions for them that will ultimately reduce those costs and thereby provide greater benefit for all. They say that "Companies must take the lead in bringing business and society back together." Since business is the primary consumer of economic resources, that certainly seems to be a valid statement that will help deliver "the new conception of capitalism" that is a pressing requirement right now!

They claim that a number of companies known for their hard-nosed approach to business are already leading the way in this regard. Maybe so, but it still seems to me that the start of "shared values" is the organisation itself. Thus employee ownership is not just a way of building employee engagement, but is a way of creating the shared values and hence the shared purpose that will make the organisation a community itself. That in turn will ensure it integrates better with the community at large. This ultimately will provide the motivation and the momentum to find the solutions that Porter and Kramer are talking about.

Don't you find it wonderfully ironic? The ideal way to create shared value is employee ownership that makes everyone an owner and that does not involve shares!  And do this and you may even help solve the world's problems.  

Exciting Developments

I am writing this blog a little later than I usually do and apologise for the delay. This is due to the additional demands made upon my time as a result of publishing my new books. However, it is with great delight that I announce:

  1. The publication of the 3rd Edition of "Lean Organisations Need FAT People: How to Grow Your Human Assets." With three additional chapters it is no longer just the provocative work of the previous editions, but now reinforces the original ideas with a depiction of what valuing people as human assets would look like in practice, and an even stronger case for the benefits this would create. 

  2. The publication of my new book, "A Feeling of Worth: A Manifesto for Mending Our Broken World." This book should have been my first book, as the ideas in "Lean Organisations Need FAT People" originally had their roots in these ideas, but I was afraid of being seen as a prophet of doom. However, the collapse of the financial markets and the onslaught of the credit crunch and the economic downturn proved the validity of my thinking and thus the justification for the solutions I was proposing.

So, if you are concerned about the economic situation and the state of the world, and would like to get a different perspective with some innovative ideas as to how things might be improved, you can be amongst the first to purchase a copy by simply going to "A Feeling of Worth" now. Alternatively if you were intrigued by the earlier editions but were unable to envisage how the concepts would work in practice, or even thought they were too idealististic, you might want to purchase this new edition of "Lean Organisations Need FAT People" now. You might even want to acquire both. I hope so, because I really would love to hear your thoughts. 

Who knows, together we might even make a difference and help change the world.