Being A Fast Company In A World In Need Of Radical Change

Welcome to my first blog post. Thanks for your interest in the future of the corporate social responsibility movement. As this is Fast Company’s site, I hope to encourage you all to both Move Fast and Move Wisely.

If you move fast, alone, you can “quickly” run off a cliff. And if you move wisely, but take too much time, you can be seen as an “also ran” in a world that increasingly values – and is looking for - innovation.

Do you remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the villain chooses the wrong chalice to drink from? It wasn’t a pretty sight. And I don’t want anything like that to happen to your businesses. In that same scene, Indiana Jones thinks more clearly about what sort of chalice a carpenter would make and chooses the one that saves his father’s life.

To those of you who already recognize the importance of your business being known for being concerned about society as well as the bottom line, I say “Congratulations!”… and “Have you heard about The UN Global Compact? It costs nothing to join except your commitment to getting better every year at how you interact with the world at large.”

For those of you thinking about being a socially responsible business for the first time, I say, “You couldn’t choose a better time to engage with your customers on the issues of the day. Everyone is looking for new solutions. If you can become known for helping bring some into the light of day, you will be a hero – not just a provider – to your customers.”

To all of you, here’s my main point: Given the nature of the sociopolitical economic environment in which we find ourselves right now, it is more important than ever that we choose our business strategies wisely. I am convinced that – unless wise decisions are made by all of us in the months and years ahead – many of our businesses will suffer… and some will even fail… for reasons unrelated to our “classic” day-to-day managerial decisions.

It will be in the parallel managerial area of corporate citizenship initiatives that we will make the most critical differences to our futures. In a nutshell, here’s why:

We have reached the end of classic economics as we know it. By “classic” I mean economics based on zero-sum, scarcity-based thinking. This may be hard for some of you to see, but it’s increasingly easy for the rest of the world’s businesses to see. Want proof? Read the special report on globalization in the September 20th issue of The Economist, especially the last essay entitled “Opportunity Knocks: As long as the protectionists don’t spoil it.” The new economics is based on abundance-based thinking.

With our emphasis here in America on “competition first, everything else comes later,” this is going to be a hard thing for us to adjust to. But adjust we must. And to help you begin that process consider this:  The bailout / rescue legislation Congress is working to pass is proof that the classic capitalistic system here in America no longer exists. 

Yes, there’s a big adjustment ahead for us all.  But for those comfortable with being innovators, there is also great success available if they see the nature of that adjustment first and decide to lead the charge for the change we all need to make. 

I hope to contribute to you all being able to make that adjustment with my humble blog here on Fast Company. Thanks for your interest. I look forward to hearing what you think of this brave new world in which we now live.

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  • elaine cohen

    hi steven, as a social business consultant, i am on your side of the fence. Your post reminds me of a Covey workshop i did close to 20 years ago where i learnt of the abundance and scarecity mentalities, and also to seek first to understand before you seek to be understood. Seems to me like this is the core of social responsbility. The free economy has strangled those who sought freedom e whilst those they strangled remain so. the new era will require corporations and governments to change their habits and consider more equitable ways of doing business. Kinda like after a big heart attack - after the by-pass (funds injection), a new life-style of business will have to kick in. As an optimist, and one who is encouraged on a daily basis by corporations (my clients) who are making major strides in new directions of transparency, accountability and responsibility, i remain optimistic. I think business will change its habits. For a while at least!
    elaine cohen, israel