Jun 20

CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM: HOPE FOR OUR MODERN WORLD

Capitalism is good.

We are excited to share this story on Capitalism. You may ask why we are doing so, and the answer is simple: It is because we believe it matters.

Business has had an extremely bad rap in recent decades, and we are all familiar with the criticisms: “Business serves the lowest of all human instincts, selfishness and greed. It has created vast inequalities and is destroying the planet.  We need another model – if only we could find one.”

This is an outdated lens through which to view business, says Bertus, who is extremely pleased to be reading the book ‘Conscious Capitalism’ by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, “It puts our own business approach into words that we could not quite articulate in the past.”

“For us, the Conscious Capitalism vision is one of creativity, hope, and kindness, quite the opposite of the harsh and oppressive image of business dedicated to profits alone,” says Bertus.

“This new vision offers an encouraging future for us all. It is what the world needs, and what we all need from business. It makes sense for our modern world.”

Capitalism is good when businesses are conscious of their extraordinary power and orientate every aspect of their operations towards creating a sustainable future. This requires taking into account the well-being of their own team members, their customers, suppliers, the end users of their products, and also the natural world.

It means putting into practice the best, rather than the worst, of human attributes.

Mackey is CEO of the US organic grocery chain Whole Foods Market, and Sisodia is a thought leader and business professor. Far from being difficult or convoluted, their approach is one that quite simply works. It is energising, creating an environment where one solution grows into another. It gives businesses the opportunity to thrive, while creating benefit for people and the natural world.

In the past, the profit of a business was all-important, and its sense of responsibility disregarded. “Profit is still important, very important,” says Bertus. “Without it, capitalism would not exist. But profits can still be achieved in a different way to that of the past.”

Do not underestimate the value of knowing your business’s purpose. We asked ourselves the question, “Why do we exist?” This was a hard question to ask but we know that people are attracted to a business’s sense of purpose, which inspires them.

For us at Dolphin Bay, this purpose is to make a positive difference by offering products and services that prolong the life-span of treated timber, thereby preserving the forest resources we already have, and providing long-term protection for the infrastructure our world so badly needs for growth and development.

Conscious capitalists see people not as a resource to be squeezed for productivity, but as a source of solutions and new growth. In the book, Mackey writes: “A resource is like a lump of coal; use it, and it is gone. A source is like the sun: virtually inexhaustible… Conscious Capitalism offers the promise of tapping into human potential in ways that few companies have been able to do.”

 

Do not underestimate the value of knowing your business’s purpose. People are attracted to a business’s sense of purpose, which inspires them.

 

Conscious capitalists should hire the right people, giving them “the right seat on the bus”. This will give them work satisfaction and tap into their resourcefulness. Everybody needs to make a positive contribution and we will all do so if we are fulfilled. In this kind of workplace, a team will function like a nuclear reactor’s fuel rods. They can do little on their own but, together in a critical mass, can create unprecedented energy.

Customers need to be seen not as consumers to be sold to, but as human beings to be served. They will know when you genuinely care about their well-being, instead of perceiving them merely as a means to make a profit.

At Dolphin Bay, we find it is important to choose our customers carefully. We rarely enter into business agreements where our services are disregarded and we cannot make a positive contribution to our partner’s business. This approach is attracting like-minded customers who are a constant source of energy and inspiration to us, and it has resulted in our company growing along with theirs.

We also appreciate it when customers help us by telling us when we need to change and develop, because we understand the importance of being able to adapt very quickly to a changing environment, if our business is to grow.

Customers and team members are like the two wings of a bird, both necessary to fly. Take care of your team, and they will take care of your customers.

Of course, things will not always be rosy, not even in a workplace driven by the principles of Conscious Capitalism. Forces for good and bad, and a continuous battle between the two, will always exist. The key is to remain conscious of what we are doing and how we do it. If we lose this consciousness, the good can easily subside and a narrow view of self-focus alone can dominate, causing much unhappiness.

 

There is no more powerful source of creative energy in the world than a turned on, empowered human being.

 

Several years ago, the US-based management consultancy Gallup conducted a survey, in 155 countries, of human happiness, known as the Gallup World Poll. This revealed that the primary determinant of human happiness, even above the joys of family, was a good job.

Meaningful work builds lives as nothing else can, observes Bertus. Most people in this century are not seeking just a pay check from work; they are looking for meaning; for opportunities to “learn and grow and have fun, because light-heartedness brings out our creativity.

“This means companies are in the business not just of making money, but also of making people happy,” says Bertus. “It’s not too much of a stretch to say that business, possibly the most of all structures in modern life, is actually responsible for the happiness of the world.”

Unfortunately, most companies have not evolved to take advantage of these opportunities. “It is now time for this to change,” says Bertus.

The golden thread running through humanity, and the one that can run through our businesses too, is love; not the fluffy, over-used word of conventional clichés, but one that means a deep empathy, a passion for what is good, and a faith for what is possible.

If our primary motive is this sense of love, and we see the world and others through this lens, then we can create a new world: one of opportunities and solutions, rather than restrictions and conflicts. It comes down to who we choose to be as human beings.

 

Customers need to be seen not as consumers to be sold to, but as human beings to be served.

 

“Picture a business built on love and care, not stress,” says Bertus, “one in which each day you are freshly inspired by what brought you to the business in the first place; where team members leave for home at the end of the day feeling full of energy, because they have given energy and accumulated it in return. This is the kind of business that we are dedicated to creating at Dolphin Bay.”

This will not result in a business that leaches profit, but rather one that acts fairly towards both the business and people.

Mackey suggests that the way forward for humankind is to liberate “the heroic quality of business.”

There is no more powerful source of creative energy in the world than a turned on, empowered human being, he says.

Bring several of these together in a business, and businesses like this together in a network, and you create a force to change the world.