Declaration of Interdependence

As many of you know, I’m participating in a year-long study this year on the concept of Conscious Capitalism.  In simple terms, it’s about how those businesses who do good things to improve the human condition in their community ultimately see larger profits.  It’s a win-win.  The business grows while those people around them grow too. 

In the first-quarter of 2016, my colleagues and I learned about the importance of “Purpose” within a business.  They call it “Purpose Beyond Profits” and it identifies why the business exists.  Often that purpose has nothing to do with the business itself; the business is merely a means to help the organization achieve its higher goals.

This past quarter I learned about another pillar of Conscious Capitalism, the Stakeholders.  The stakeholders are those who are impacted by an organization’s actions.  There are some obvious stakeholders in a business such as its customers, employees, and shareholders.  But there are others with whom a business needs to consider.  They include suppliers or key partners, the community where they do business, and even the environment. 

Businesses who practice Conscious Capitalism strive to serve all of their stakeholders.  They try to never give one stakeholder an advantage at the expense of another.  It’s a difficult balancing act, but studies consistently show that businesses who respect and serve their customers, their employees, their shareholders, their suppliers, their community, and their environment bring many returns back to their organization.

During this month when we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I challenge you to think about your organization’s Declaration of Interdependence.  This notion comes from Whole Foods and embodies that company’s business philosophy and is posted in all of their stores.  The company’s motto is “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” indicating that the scope of their work goes well beyond that of a food retailer.  Within their declaration, they state, “One of the most important responsibilities of Whole Foods Market’s leadership is to make sure the interests, desires, and needs of our various stakeholders are kept in balance.” 

How well do you treat your stakeholders?  Do you beat up your suppliers over price?  Do you stifle employees from reaching their full potential?  Do you take shortcuts with the environment to enhance the bottom line for your shareholders?  That’s not how Petoskey businesses function.  Most of the businesses I see operate with the utmost respect for their key stakeholders.  And as a result, they see great returns within their businesses.  If you’re taking the time to read this, then I bet you’re one of those businesses that takes care to do business responsibly and care for those who help your business. 

I challenge you to take the next step and develop your own Declaration of Interdependence.  Give some thought to the people, the community, and the environment that help sustain your organization.  Look for ways to enhance your relationship with these key stakeholders.  What more can you do to enhance these critical relationships?

The book I read this quarter was Firms of Endearment by Raj Sisodia, David Wolfe, and Jag Sheth.  I haven’t had a business-related book speak to me as much as this one since Good to Great.  The book is full of examples of great businesses doing great things and is an inspiration to business leaders who want to take their organizations to the next level.  If you read this book, you’ll understand why I’m so geeked about the Conscious Capitalism movement. 


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