This is not another attack on Trump. Actually, I don’t really care too much about Trump. What I do care about are the implications of his policies, ideology, worldview, decisions, moods, and, believe it or not, at times his tweets. And yet, it is not about Trump as a person. Last week, former President Obama rightly stated that Trump is not the cause but a symptom for a lot of things that have gone array these days in business, society and the world. And, indeed, Trump is a strong symptom, an excellent and exemplary figure to represent capitalism of the old ages. The problem is, we no longer we live in the 19thor 20thcentury that were heavily shaped by traditional capitalism Trump loves so much.
Traditional capitalism at its “best”
Traditional capitalism rewards those who seek short-term gains, maximize profits regardless of whether or not business generates value to customers, workforce, business or society. This capitalism treats humans and the environment as resources, cost factors and numbers in balance sheets. It thrives in an atmosphere of mistrust, tension, fierce cutthroat and winner-takes-all competition, selfishness and anxiety. Exploiting or polluting the environment is considered collateral damage and, hence, not evil. The dividing and widening gap between rich and poor is dismissed as a distraction that can be fixed – by the free market. While proponents of traditional capitalism don’t negate the fact the world is becoming ever more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous they are not really concerned about it because they believe that the established business principles, processes and rules can handle these challenges, too. And, if there were a problem it is probably because some people, organizations or governments neglected these established principles.
Capitalism is not dead. It is outdated in its traditional form
I am not a critic of capitalism per se (how could I, having been trained as an economist?). Fact is that traditional capitalism leads to a dead-end, does not answer today’s challenges in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, widens the gap between rich and poor, exploits and threatens to destroy our environment and thus our own planet. This is not a call to end capitalism – this would this too simplistic. And it would be plain stupid for capitalism is a core element of business which we, people, need to survive and thrive. What we need is a different, a new business paradigm that not only helps find solutions to today’s problems but can also serve as guidance to sustainable business in the 21stcentury.
The Human Business Paradigm
The good news is such business principles already exist. They constitute the Human Business Paradigm. These principles can serve as a new compass for doing business in the 21stcentury. Let me summarize its key principles:
2. The purpose of human business is to generate and add sustainable value to its customers, workforce, business, and society.
3. Human business promotes diversity in the workforce, reflecting an open society.
4. Human business advocates cross-functional and self-organizing teams.
5. Human business nourishes joy and happiness in its daily operation.
6. Human business practices and nurtures conscious leadership of enablement and empowerment.
7. Human business cultivates open and learning organizations that embrace change and thrive for continuous self-improvement of products and services, processes and people.
8. Human business provides and shares guidance for responding to rapid change in business and society.
9. Human business understands profits as a means to fulfill its business purposes; i.e., human business is purpose-driven and not profit-driven.
10. Human business advocates a circular economy, in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
Walking the Talk. Building a Human Economy
During the next couple of weeks I plan to dwell into each of these principles and share concrete stories of companies, organizations and projects that practice these principles. At Motivate2B and The Art of New Business we walk the talk; and there are many other businesses that do so already. I invite you, too, to join us and share your stories.