Corporations get a bad press.
Mostly because they seem to dehumanize the people who work in them and sometimes spoil the environment for others. So how do you make corporations ‘more fit for human habitation’? That has been our mission. But what does this really mean?
Well, we are going to get to that, but first we need think about the idea of a ‘corporation’…
In many ways, you can think of them as like people: some do good, some are self-serving, all are less than perfect, but all aspire to being better.
Corporations are co-operations. There are other kinds of co-operations, of course, and what we say here applies to them. Like people, they are fundamentally good. Our standard of living is due to the ability of people to work together for the benefit of others. Pick almost any object or thing that you use every day and imagine how it could have been created without a group of people working together to make it happen.
So how do we focus on the good aspects of corporations?
Models are part of our business, so here’s a model:
Think of a corporation (/organization/education system) as a wheel rolling through life leaving the world a better place.
How does it work? How is it propelled? What’s it like to be part of it? Is it fun?
First: why do they exist? What is their ‘Purpose’? Much is written today about having a clear purpose. More than just a mission statement, although this is what you tend to see. It’s a ‘reason to be’ that requires imagination of a better world for at least some people.
To make the purpose real, people have to create and then provide some thing or service to someone outside. Those in the company make a ‘Contribution’ which manifests as that thing or service.
When the product or service is delivered, it has an ‘Impact’. This is where the rubber meets the road. That impact is initially on the customer. However, there are ripples from that impact, after effects, you could say.
Impact is a neutral sentiment, but ‘Well-being’ is the feeling that you want. If well-being increases, then the world feels a better place for those in it. That well-being ripples out to the customer’s family, community and the world at large. If I buy a smart phone, I immediately feel good. But then the community feels it when people are better connected. And then the world is better when people in remote areas can communicate where they could not do so before. The well-being left behind in the world as the smart phone corporation ‘rolls them out’ is immeasurable, but real.
Let’s talk more about those who work in the corporation. Do they really feel all these things? Are they really clear about their purpose? Are they allowed to make a contribution? And do they like the working conditions? How is their well-being? Maybe if those employees fully realized the good they are doing, they would find meaning in their work and be motivated to do more.
If the answer to all these questions is a ‘yes’, then they will feel that they ‘Belong’. Think about it. That sense of belonging is the measure of how good that company is to work with and for. It boils down to satisfying basic human needs: to have a reason to take part, to be able to contribute, to enjoy the journey with others and to find meaning in their work.
We all need some ‘Why?’, ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ [Simon Sinek has them in this order]
With belonging comes a greater sense of purpose and the wheel rolls on with greater contributions.
And so the wheel accelerates away, leaving more and more well-being in the world.
Notice some features:
The outer rim of the wheel is somehow inanimate, it’s just a machine. But the machine is driven by a human motor. Its heart is people. The heart is stronger when people Belong.
It’s what we call the ‘Impact-ology Wheel’.