We all felt the chills of those winter days in late 2008 while the “financial storms” swept the world. Many people were locked inside their own business world just making sure they survived the impact of these financial storms on their business. In the middle of the storm the business reality set in and some people could not be supported any longer by their companies. As a result they were “put outside” to weather the storm themselves.
We are now able to look back over those wintry days from a place where we are beginning to feel the warmth of spring days. New ideas are emerging and many people are looking for new business seeds to grow, that will provide sufficient resources before the end of the next autumn, so as to ensure they are better prepared for the next winter cycle. Yes the business cycles keep happening just like the seasons.
Some parts of the world weathered the financial storm relatively better than others. For example Singapore and Hong Kong survived quite well (maybe like their weather the seasons are not too varied or perhaps they just were more prepared for the storms). Meanwhile the Banking and Automobile sectors in the USA were almost putout to weather the storms all by themselves. The most important factor in any cycle is to look for ways of developing and growing so as to be stronger and more effective in the future.
What has really been highlighted during this latest financial storm is the importance of business looking even more closely at its role in a truly global economy. By global economy, I mean the impact that people have on the sustainability of the planet. We have all heard the messages from the likes of Al Gore through the film “The Inconvenient Truth” however this latest storm shifted the way in which many organisations conduct their business.
Many businesses have changed, well it is actually the people operating those businesses that have changed. Though the real question is have enough people changed? Asking that in a more direct way, have you changed? The changes you may have made are to now look at your business choices by taking into account equally the considerations of:
- Is this a good choice for me (myself and my business),
- for you (my suppliers and customers) and
- the planet (my home)?
Lets look at each of these 3 questions in turn.
Is it good for me? Of course you need to look after yourself and your business. You need to consider both the short term and long term impacts of your decisions. For example, if you make a product by cutting costs and lowering the quality, then your brand may become know as an inferior one that does not last.
Is it good for you? Making products that may give you great financial short term gains while compromising the health or safety of your suppliers or customers is not likely to lead to them continuing to use your products. Think about the examples of the Melamine in Milk or the Lead in the paint of children’s toys.
Is it good for the planet? As you know, we only have one world to live on and keeping that healthy is important for us all. Using production processes that pollute the water we need to drink or the air we need to breathe can be a significant problem for all people and creatures. Look at the example of how plastic is not degrading in the environment, it is accumulating in our waterways and being ingested by fish and animals where it stays in their stomachs and eventually feeds back into our own food.
Do you have defined systems in place to actually assess opportunities against these three questions? As you know having systems in place helps ensure consistency between different meetings and workshops. However, having the system in place is only one step. The second step is ensuring that the system is followed. Do you ensure your meeting and workshop facilitators know how your system works?
When facilitating workshops and meetings I like to remind people that it is the quality of the people’s input that creates great products, which in turn allows integrity of those products to have a great perception in the market place. This leads to your increased market share and hence increased profit. It does however not stop there. The way the company shares their profits creates even greater loyalty with people both inside the organisation and of course this also follows on to the wider community.
So how do you share your company’s profits with your suppliers, customers and the community? Are you creating a win-win-win situation in terms of the three areas of looking after me and you and the planet?
This leads companies to look at their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives and their Philanthropic Initiatives. No longer is just good enough to give away money to causes. Knowing those causes and actually participating with those causes through staff programmes is becoming the norm. Partnering with these causes gives a new meaning or purpose to making profits for the company.
Now where do you hold your team meetings and workshops? Are they always in the same meeting room? Why not vary the venue so you get to see different people shine. You could even use the venues that your CSR cause has available. I particularly like walking meetings in the outdoors. Have you tried a picnic at the botanic gardens, walking along the waterfront or heading out on a boat cruise? Naturally people will behave in different ways outside the meeting room and therefore their thinking will also change. When outside take note of what is going on with the different seasons and how the different plants and animals adapt. You may even see a natural example of an issue you are facing in your own business and can take that approach “back to work”. It may be to do with your waste products and you see that there is a natural way to decompose or reuse it as part of an additional product line. As you know, ideally in business (just as in nature) there should be no waste that can not be used by another business (organism) to support its niche in the market place (environment).
So rather than considering how you can grow your economy again with only a main stream approach why not start with an eco-logical perspective as you can not have an ECOnomy without an eco start!
(written for http://www.walkyourtalk.asia/)