Screw Business As Usual
The following is excerpts from the book by Richard Branson..... " My message is a simple one: business as usual isn’t working. In fact, it’s “business as usual" that’s wrecking our planet.
Resources are being used up; the air, the sea, the land -- are all heavily polluted. The poor are getting poorer. Many are dying of starvation or because they can’t afford a dollar a day for life-saving medicine. We have to fix it -- and fast. Even people who don’t say they believe in climate change, or who simply don’t care about pollution, poverty and war -- out of sight for them is out of mind -- admit that people everywhere are mucking up things.
I’ve always believed that by taking care of people in my companies the rest will take care of itself. This can be something simple like allowing people to job share or giving them the chance to run their own show. This has worked for us and has also built a pretty special group of people around the world who are not only passionate about Virgin, but also about making a difference in the world. The great thing is that many entrepreneurial enterprises and businesses all over the world are now doing this instinctively and people everywhere are realising that they truly can make a difference very day, no matter how small the scale.
In fact, a good, socially aware business doesn’t have to be big to make an impact -- it just has to have the right people in place. There are many small-scale businesses around the world -- from the townships of Johannesburg, to the villages of India, to rural cheesemakers in France, to organic vineyards in Australia, to llama knitwear cooperatives in Ecuador -- that are all changing the way business is done for the better. There are also some large multinational corporations that are starting to radically transform themselves to be a force for good. The people in all these organisations -- large and small -- have the combined power of a hurricane to effect change. It should no longer be just about typical "corporate social responsibility" (or that horrible acronym CSR) where the "responsibility" bit is usually the realm of a small team buried in a basement office -- now it should be about every single person in a business taking responsibility to make a difference in everything they do, at work and in their personal lives.
The great thing is that, with technology, we’ve also become far more aware not just of what is happening in our own neighbourhood, but of what is happening on the other side of the world. This technology has also smashed through the top-down approach and shifted the power to the people. I've had the pleasure of working with Pam Omidyar who, along with her husband Pierre, the founder of eBay, joined us in providing initial funding and support for a project you will hear about later on called The Elders. A couple of years ago I was travelling in Morocco with Pam and Pierre, and Pierre’s words about this new paradigm shift stuck with me.
He said: "Long-term sustainable change happens if people discover their own power. The key is moving the centre of gravity in the decision-making, moving it closer to people in the community, in the field, and so forth -- and away from a centrally directed, top-down approach. For the first time in human history, technology is enabling people to really maintain those rich connections with much larger numbers of people than ever before." There are names for this new approach to business -- from Capitalism 2.0 to philanthrocapitalism. None of them has yet captured the essence or the enormity and potential of this exciting new shift we need to make.