Fast Company

The Shift

Again, I am grateful for the level of thought being generated in this discussion. I would at some point like to come back and address each of questions being asked.

In researching the book, I sensed a shift taking place at the core of the businesses I talked to. Ultimately, I think it is a shift in the forces that act on the market. There is a shift in public opinion and values that gives value to things like caring for the planet and for those who live on it a shift away from only focusing on shareholder value. It is my vision at some point in this present process that business needs to take even more responsibility for making the world a better place and not just mitigating their negative impact.

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  • Curt Rosengren

    Jeffrey wrote:

    "It is my vision at some point in this present process that business needs to take even more responsibility for making the world a better place and not just mitigating their negative impact."

    Can I get a hallelujah! I'm bummed that I'm only just now reading all the postings for the week. I love where you're coming from with this, Jeffrey.

    I think you're right Katherine. I suspect a lot of the social responsibility horn blowing out there is little more than smoke and mirrors. Do you have any insights on that Jeffrey? Is that the case, or is that just my inner cynic coming out again?

    Maybe the real question is what's behind the social responsibility? Is it a marketing tactic, or is it a core value? If it's a marketing tactic, it's subject to the ever shifting "flavor of the month" tides of change. If it's a core value, you can bet it's there for the long haul.

    I have long thought that the only way real, substantial social change is going to happen is if it becomes profitable to do good. As deeply as I personally believe in it, doing socially responsible things because it's "the right thing to do" will remain secondary to the demands of bottom line profit.

    The fact that you're seeing market forces driving things in that direction is heartening, Jeffrey.

    If we ever really and truly wake up to the fact that it makes good bottom line business sense to take a socially responsible approach, that will be a powerful force indeed.

    Curt Rosengren
    Passion Catalyst (sm)
    blog.occupationaladventure.com

  • Katherine Stone

    In the Support Economy online "support group" put together by Fast Company, Shoshanna Zuboff just sent an email talking about the fact that "innovations in favor of a direct relationship with new consumers will always be regarded at first as 'quirky', 'marginal', etc." It seems to me that the things you are talking about support the idea that transaction economics (the idea that all value emanates from the organization) has got to give up the ghost at some point. There's no way to continue giving short shrift to the needs and beliefs of consumers. Many companies now are putting together CSR reports or triple bottom line reports, but most of those are done by corporate communications simply to head off any complaints. Some marcom manager makes calls around the globe trying to find different pockets of the organization that have done good things (and there is always SOMEONE who gets it that the whole company can then use to portray itself as "good"). But the truth is that there's no real policy or belief or work done across the board to reflect true caring for people and the planet. It's the smaller companies of the world and the self-employed who will have the power to make change.