My why & our purpose
Do you want to save the world or…?
‘Do you want to save the world, or do you want to make money?’ was the choice that many of my generation had to make when we entered the labour market in the 1980s. This was a time when most companies operated with one bottom line and acknowledged only a single obligation: to make money – and left the rest for others to deal with. And it was a time when employees went to work to make a living – and realized themselves in their spare time.
The good (work) life
But as I soon came to discover as a business manager throughout the 1990s with responsibility for hundreds of service employees: the times they are a-changin’. Along with the influence of Generation Y came new expectations of feedback, involvement and development. Today’s employees want influence on their daily work routines. They want to understand how their efforts are contributing to the larger picture. And professional development must go hand in hand with personal growth and fulfilment. Today, it is all about creating the good (work) life.
New times create new needs…
At the same time, in the wake of conflicts like the Greenpeace-Shell confrontation when environmentalists occupied the oil platform Brent Spar to prevent Shell from disposing of it in the deep Atlantic waters off the west coast of Scotland, and the later Enron and Worldcom accounting scandals, issues of business and society, profit making and ethics were also starting to emerge.
Along with these developments came discussions and new questions. Why are these changes happening? Is it possible to meet people’s needs and business needs at the same time? Can companies make money while being positive contributors to society? And if so, how?
… and requires new business models
The age of globalization is opening up to a world of possibilities – but also to a new world of disorder with financial, social and environmental crises that have left their mark, globally and nationally, on organizations and individuals. This world of disorder is giving rise to new needs. And new needs require new solutions.
We are the first generation of global citizens. And the choices we will be making now and in the next decade will affect the next many generations to come. With business being one of the most dominant institutions of this century, understanding the implications of the current changes is just as important for future generations as it is for the future survival and growth of businesses’ bottom line.
My why …
This is the reason why I since 2003 have specialized in working with social business trends with the purpose of finding new solutions to the demands and challenges we face in our (work) life – to be a catalyst for the development of solutions that bridge society’s / people’s needs with business needs.
This has led to exciting work on committees and boards, involvement in grassroots projects and social ventures, the development of new business strategies for corporations as well as speaking engagements for thousands of people from ministries, companies, NGOs, unions, public institutions, business schools and universities.
Business school students, for example, want to develop their professional skills to serve a higher purpose. Ministries want to develop new policies that encourage companies to integrate corporate responsibility and social innovation as part of their core business. NGOs want to partner with corporations to create more social value. And businesses want to create a workplace that can attract the new generation on the labour market as well as products and services that meet their customers’ needs in new, sustainable ways.
In short, they want to understand the implications of the current changes in business and society – and they want to develop solutions to meet the new needs that follow in the wake of these changes without compromising the needs of future generations.
… and our purpose
This is also what drives me and the purpose behind The Social Business Company: We want to guide and inspire individuals and organisations to engage in or develop innovative and sustainable practices that generate both social and economic value. We want to contribute to a culture where giving and growing are mutually reinforcing concepts. And we want to contribute to a positive development in society – for the benefit of both this and future generations.