Seth Godin in his blog has just pointed out that everything we do as enterprises, good or bad, impacts our community. We took that concept a step deeper to say that there is no conflict between doing good for the community and making a profit, as described in this excerpt from our new book ‘The Human Constraint’.
On the hotel patio, May felt the chill of the approaching nightfall and pulled her jacket around her shoulders. “Thanks, Alan.”
Alan placed two drinks down on the table. “I’m only buying because everyone else has left. Cheapest round so far.”
“No one will persuade me you’re anything but a perfect gentleman. Did you read that thing I sent you about B Corporations?”
“I did, and I loved the idea of a for-profit company that obligates itself to contribute to the community. If they pass that legislation in Kent County then I think we should talk to Nick about how that could fit into the mine operation. I mean, everything we’re trying to do and be, it all fits. It’s like our chairman always says, you don’t have to be a charity to do good, and you don’t have to be good to do charity.”
“Which doesn’t mean you can be bad!”
“I don’t think that’s what he meant, but this is the most exciting business model I’ve seen. I have thought about going into not-for-profit work, but quite frankly, a lot of those organizations put me off. But with a B Corporation, you can be a real business, but you make it your business to contribute to the community. That’s exactly what we want to do here.”
May took a sip from her spritzer, taking a moment to think through the visit to the mine and the day’s discussions. Something was becoming clear in her mind. “If you think about it, every enterprise should really be a social enterprise. What Sam is always saying is that for businesses to really be sustainable, they have to understand the network they are part of, and they have to interact, interdepend with it in a win-win way. If all businesses were to do that, then all businesses would be benefiting their community, the way a B-corp does.”
Alan leaned back in his chair as he processed what May had just said. “I think you’re onto something there. I guess it would take another generation to see it that way. As long you’ve got investors investing through Wall Street and looking to make a quick buck, they’re not going to have any interest in social enterprises.”
“If they assume that being social means you make less profit. But what if that’s not the case? Isn’t that just another assumption?”
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. Her new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how Deming and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.