Sunday, April 1, 2007

Conscious Capitalism? Huh?

What is Conscious Capitalism anyway? Isn't this an oxymoron since Capitalism is evil? Good question. I'll leave it to rockstar entrepreneur John Mackey, Chairman and CEO of Whole Foods, to answer this question.

In his very passionate and insightful essay entitled, "Conscious Capitalism: Creating a New Paradigm for Business," John Mackey laid out his vision. Here are some key quotes from the essay:

“Have you ever asked yourself what is the purpose of a business? It is an interesting question that most business people never ask themselves. If you think about it, what is the purpose of a doctor or hospital? Is their purpose to maximize profits? Well, this is certainly not the purpose that they teach in medical schools or most doctors advocate. The doctor's purpose is to help heal sick people. What about the purpose of the teacher or the school? Do they exist to maximize profits? No, of course not. Their primary purpose is to educate the young and prepare them to live successful lives in society. What about the purpose of lawyers or law courts? All lawyer jokes aside, the purpose of a lawyer would be to pursue justice and our law courts exist to settle disputes in our society and to bring wrongdoers to justice. All of the other professions put an emphasis on the public good and have purposes beyond self-interest. Why doesn't business?”

“I've known many entrepreneurs in my life, and with only a few exceptions most did not create their business primarily to maximize profits. Of course they wanted to make money, but profit was just one of the reasons they started their business. It may be that they were unable to work for anybody else, have strong authority issues, and therefore need to be their own boss. Or they need to be in charge of their own enterprise because that is how they get their sense of self-worth, value, and self-esteem.

It could be that they have something to prove to their parents, siblings, or their friends and creating a successful business will exorcise unconscious childhood demons. It could be that they are very creative individuals who have ideas that they want to see tested in reality to see whether or not they work. It could be that they are idealists and want to make the world a better place, and their primary motivation for creating their business is to improve the world. It could be that the entrepreneurs create their business for the sheer fun of it. There are many, many reasons why people create businesses, and while I cannot deny that there are certain entrepreneurs who create their business primarily to maximize profits, I would say that in my life experience they are definitely a minority.”

“If most entrepreneurs don't create their businesses for the primary purpose of maximizing profits, then what are their primary goals? The answer to this question varies tremendously from business to business - there are potentially as many different purposes for businesses as there are businesses. Entrepreneurs create their businesses for a diversity of reasons. However, I believe that most of the greatest companies in the world also have great purposes which were discovered and/or created by their original founders and which still remain at the core of their business models.

Having a deeper, more transcendent purpose is highly energizing for all of the various interdependent stakeholders, including the customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and the larger communities in which the business participates. While these deeper, more transcendent purposes have unique expressions at each business they also can be grouped into certain well known and timeless categories. Philosophy dates back to Plato the timeless ideals of “The Good”, “The True”, and “The Beautiful” that humanity has been seeking to create, discover, and express for thousands of years. If we add the ideal of “The Heroic” to the above three we have the framework of higher ideals which most great businesses seek to express in some form or fashion.”


So there. Conscious Capitalism is the expression of The Good, The True, and The Beautiful through business.

Read the whole essay here.

1 comment:

Philosophie said...

I greatly admire John Mackey's vision and example of conscious business and entrprenuerism. simulataneously we also need to develop understanding of the systemic problems and blindspots of capitalism, so we can create sustainable debt-free monetary system secured by good-will and trust of the people from local level up.

http://conscious-capitalism.blogspot.com
http://seek2know.zaadz.com/conscious_capitalism