I Can Only Hope!

Everywhere I turn I see Social Business, Business As Mission, and other acts of business doing good. Thus, I can only hope these are indications that business has finally understood the power of creating value, both socially as well as economically. My last blog was about a gentleman who had caught the bug, and was using his business to serve God.

From history the Puritans understood this sense of calling, as had Martin Luther, and others who recognized that being called by God to ministry was not just teaching or preaching is was serving in areas where one is planted. Pretty cool stuff.

Now I am beginning to see evidence of this in the corporate world. It appears there may be a corporate search for meaning that may surpass my generation’s move into social responsibility. I learned about this in an article entitled “I don’t have a job. I have a higher calling.” I remember a few years past there was a “spirituality in the work place movement” that seemed interesting, but it was too benign for me. I need a little more Jesus than that. However, the current version of this seems quite interesting because of what corporations are involved.

Companies like KPMG, Travelzoo, and Juniper Networks are reframing how and why they work. CEO’s of these companies are saying things like, “we are catherdral builders, not bricklayers;” that statement was made by the CEO of KPMG. Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper Networks also stated, “we are enabling scientists to bring clean tech energies that make the planet a better place.” Seems reasonable.

The obvious next question is why are companies doing this? Some could be cynical and say these companies are only doing it for the accolades. But, I tend to agree with the authors of this article that it is the Millennials who are pushing these companies to change. KPMG and others are “faced with a cadre of young workers who say they want to make a difference in addition to a paycheck,” thus the need to “inject meaning into the daily grind, connecting profit-driven endeavors to grand consequences for mankind.” I think this is where business needs to go.

Many years ago our economy made the shift from being product focused to one of service. Often we think that this means we have shifted from manufacturing to retail. I disagree. During the height of the industrial age there wasn’t a lot of competition, and therefore there was a caveat emptor perspective within the market. The buyer had to beware or they would get cheated. The famous quote by Ford describes the essence of this bygone age. “The customer can have any car any color, as long as it is black.”

Now, because we are a service oriented market competitors are required to focus more on service. This means that all businesses need to be clear on their mission. I think this is helping to lead companies to recognize a higher calling. “The words mission, higher purpose, change the world, or changing the world were mentioned on earning calls, in investor meetings, and industry conferences 3,243 times in 2014, up from 2,318 five years ago.”

Companies such as Kohl’s, Harley-Davidson, and others see the value in this. This has been proven to pay off with higher productivity and employee engagement; critical elements of profitability and social capital. This may seem a bit naïve, but we have come a long way. Obviously there are people who only see business as a way to make as much money as they can. Those are individuals I really don’t want to hang out with.

I believe that business is an incredible force for creating positive social change. I think the power of entrepreneurship can create a better world. This younger generation just may do it.

And that is my thought for the day!

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