How would you view a person who would dedicate their life solely to eating? For me that would be a very limited life purpose and an outright waste of potential. The same is for business. Why limit ourselves? As much as survival is important for every business, it should not confine its existence.
Just like a human being, there is so much more a ‘business being’ can accomplish, learn and contribute if it moves beyond the survival paradigm, beyond the business as usual. In his philosophy and book, Screw Business As Usual, Richard Branson asserts that businesses can be primarily a force for good, great contributors, collective organisms to solve the most pressing problems humanity faces as well as makers of positive difference to communities, locally or globally, on a daily basis.
When considering the question of what is the responsibility of any business, I see that it’s primary purpose is to add value to the market or community it serves, and enrich all the stakeholders it impacts – in the short term and long term, and to do it all by leveraging and best using their internal resources and external opportunities. In a way, as businesses are collectives of people and they exist to serve a wider group other people, they have primarily a social responsibility at any level, including the corporate, division, department or team. This allows us to redefine what we currently understand by corporate social responsibility. What if it was not not just a noble philosophy or a small department with a PR person and a lawyer located somewhere at the end of the corridor, but instead what if corporate social responsibility was a central theme for any business? The theme that allows us to focus on adding value to the people and communities we care about and impact and to do it in the most effective way, instead of focusing on making money and surviving the presumed corporate warfare.
:: How would you think and interact in your team and your business if that social responsibility lied at the centre of why your business exists?
:: What would happen to your experience, effectiveness, and contribution if you primarily focused – individually and collectively – on adding more meaningful value and creating more sustainable leverage?
:: What legacy would you leave if your business context shifted from just financial survival to a social responsibility and impact?
Businesses provide a wonderful opportunity for us to grow and make a difference together – to accomplish more, to leave behind more, and to give our talent and work more meaning. All we need to do is to upgrade what we see is their primary purpose – this may not be easy, but for sure it seems worthwhile.