Conscious capitalism

Jun
7
2013
by
Lynne McTaggart
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Something fundamental is shifting in the zeitgeist of the corporate world. Not long ago, I got contacted by a British management consultant who, inspired by a presentation I gave about The Bond, proposed that we work together to bring the Bond into corporations. 

 

Something fundamental is shifting in the zeitgeist of the corporate world. Not long ago, I got contacted by a British management consultant who, inspired by a presentation I gave about The Bond, proposed that we work together to bring the Bond into corporations. 

He’d been inspired by ‘conscious capitalism’ coined by John McKay, CEO of Whole Foods (and the name of a book he recently published), who argues that having a successful business is far more than making a pile of cash. McKay is of the opinion that capitalism is salvageable, but the way we run our businesses has drastically got to change.

He’s starting to get a hearing largely because so many businesses today are no longer making money, and not simply because of the global recession. It’s become apparent to many senior managers that a competitive atmosphere inside their businesses is not ‘healthy’, as we always used to think, but corrosive to just about everything that drives a business forward.

Discarding Adam Smith

The suits are just beginning to get that the ‘every-man-for-himself’ mindset that has driven business in the past—that winning equals winning over someone else—is the greatest cancer of our time, accounting for every single one of the financial crises we face in the West.

Scottish philosopher Adam Smith considered one of the founders of economic theory, argued that the “invisible hand” of the market, created through natural supply and demand, and competition between self-interested individuals, would naturally best serve society as a whole.

“By pursuing his own interest, [the individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he intends to promote it,” said Smith.

But other than on the sports field, the ‘eat your own children’ mindset has been shown, time and time again, to be a dangerous and outdated tool in every regard – indeed, an impediment to success.

Promoting fear

As a success coach hired by Microsoft, the best-selling author and Chicken Soup franchise founder Jack Canfield observed that Microsoft’s practice of creating small internal competitive “silos,” vying against each other for performance and rewarded or punished for their individual success or failure, created such a climate of fear that it actually hampered innovation and lost the company market share.

This company policy stood in stark contrast to the corporate climate at Google, one of its chief rivals, where individuals were encouraged to work as a team, offered the time and space for collective brainstorming, and rewarded for the entire group’s effort. By removing a culture of naked-claw competition, Google made use of the Bond—and not only created happier employees but ultimately began to produce better results than its rival.

I once got asked to speak ‘about The Field’ in front of a group of top management from a variety of global corporations.  I didn’t know what else to do, so I started haranguing them. How, I asked a senior exec from a fast-food chain, can you make something that is so unhealthy for people?  What resources are you putting toward flying on clean energy? I asked a top manager from an airline company.  

In other words, how can you be in business unless you feel responsible?

Corporate stewards

What I was trying to do, in a crude sort of way, was to wake up these businesses to their Bond with the world. Organizations have to look beyond shareholders to the most fundamental issue of the current market economy: who they rely on and who exactly is hurt or helped by what they make or do.

By examining the ripple effect of their company, CEOs might realize that the greatest job of business is to act as a global steward, one that promotes unity and human improvement, within and without its walls.  

Once they get that, they’ll start making money again. 

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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