It doesn’t really exist.
If there’s any narrative it’s been forged, almost as a matter of necessity, around the company’s need to make a profit — in some cases at any cost. Even to this day things aren’t that different (see s.172 Companies Act 2006 (“CA 2006”)):
172 Duty to promote the success of the company
(1) A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to —
(a) the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,
(b) the interests of the company’s employees,
(c) the need to foster the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,
(d) the impact of the company’s operations on the community and the environment,
(e) the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and
(f) the need to act fairly as between members of the company.
(my emphasis added)
Sorry, I know that’s a bit UK-centric but I don’t suspect it’s hugely different in your neck of the woods.
My question is:
how do you build a new and liberating story around a statutory framework?
You don’t or at least it’s very difficult. I should know given, as I’ve said many times, I’ve been at the coalface for a while now; and whilst I’ve heard a nuanced version of the “success of the company”, I’ve never (as an example) heard one that says our employees are our greatest asset and that’s all that matters.
Sorry, that’s not quite accurate: I’ve heard it but it wasn’t true.
It could all be so different.
Why are we here?
What’s the meaning of work?
How can we serve Gaia and give back (much) more than we take?
How we do serve our souls?
How do we govern in a truly fair and equitable way?
Do we even need a company structure?
What does a collaborative space look like and not just in name?
How do we measure employee as well as customer/client satisfaction?
Is that the right measure of success?
…and the list goes on and on but you get my drift.
And, no, this isn’t another tree-hugging exercise, less still a way to sell a new imprint of an old model but genuinely to turn everything on its head.
But it’s all been done before.
But then again, what if storytelling and all that entailed became the sine qua non of the business?
How to achieve that?
Get some poets, writers, musicians, dancers, improv wizards and acrobats to come into the business to mix it up big time and put at least one of them on the Board — if you’ve stuck with or are stuck with the CA 2006 model. Better still for someone to be rewarded for asking a question that can’t be annihilated with another round of high-level meetings which speak to nothing more than keeping with ‘Status Quo 2.0’.
As an aside, how many companies have a poet in residence or writer not to craft another ditty or celebrate a faux ‘victory’ but to sit on the board and help it craft a new message which is embedded (and is truthful) across the entire business — no small feat I’ll wager? To make my point, and I could have chosen from thousands, here’s one I pulled down from the great Google in the sky:
“We see our suppliers as an extension of our business and key in helping us become the [insert] of choice. Our aim is to develop world-class, value-adding partnerships with our suppliers and support innovative solutions that put clients and customers at the heart of what we do.”
What the hell does that mean? But hey, my flabby, axe-swinging point is cheaply made and it’s only words, right!
I know I’m whistling in the wind with all this airy-fairy talk. As the beancounters will tell me, have told me, CASH IS KING, STUPID and this lofty jaunt of mine isn’t going to pay the bills. They’re probably right but something instinctual tells me that everyone ensconced in cubicle nation — or whatever it’s now called — is desperate, in a world-weary way, for something more uplifting of the soul than another PR exercise in rallying the troops.
Blessings and much love,
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