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“Capitalism is the mistaken belief that the wickedest of people will do the wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” (Milton Friedman)
This mistaken belief was the holy grail of business education since the 1950s. This folly produced many generations of business leaders around the world acting as economic hit men for mindless and faceless shareholders. Our world of destructive globalization is testimony to their narrow and selfish mindsets; their short term and incomplete decisions.
However, business thinkers are increasingly calling for a new role and meaning for business leaders. The emergent consensus is that business leaders are the new change agents for a better world, simply because they have the footprint, power and means to deliver solutions-without-borders for our societal and eco-economic problems-without-borders.
In 1987 Peter Drucker said that business scholars and business leaders will take fifty years to figure out the meaning of business as an organ of society.
Taking-up Drucker’s challenge was an eight-year safari of research, reflection and writing, drawing on the thoughts and speeches of today’s finest leaders and thinkers around the world. From them emerged their answers to a series of Socratic questions:
What kind of future does humanity want? What kind of society will be able to deliver and sustain such a kind of future? What kind of business is suitable for such a society? What kind of business leader is needed for such a business? What kind of education does such a business leader need?
There emerged a research-based understanding of the purpose, nature and dynamics of business as an organ of society. The new end-purpose of any business’ mission is to heed humanity’s global sustainability mandate to its leaders; namely to deliver:
a world of inclusive globalisation (WOIG) where systemic poverty has been permanently removed and where humanity’s broad security is assured.
a society that finds its greatness in the courage of protecting both its humanity and its economy as a whole; and
world-class businesses, financially robust across economic cycles, with global stewardship as the dominant business logic; and
business leaders with the ability to envision a WOIG, and then to lead towards it in an entrepreneurial and path-breaking manner exerting leadership qualities anchored in wisdom, love, and courage.
This is the raison d’être of business as an organ of society.
Good, but business leaders need practical business models to deliver results!
Is there such a business model?
Yes, the new Social Contract with Business is such a business model that is driven by eight business leadership responsibilities directed;
towards itself – to be world-class;
towards its direct stakeholders – to be sustainable;
towards the earth – its alignment with the earth’s finite nature;
towards the global commons – to be a co-custodian thereof;
towards society – to be a co-architect of a healthy society;
towards democracy – to protect its own entrepreneurial space;
towards government – its alignment with government priorities; and
towards transnational crime – to eliminate its role and influence.
Now that we have learned to master the winds, the waves and the microchip; how do we learn to apply the Social Contract with Business?
The new business educational paradigm, conscientization, aims to do just this by discovering, harnessing and applying the energies of love. This educationalkairos moment is achieved upon mastery of the following two knowledge clusters:
A global mindset, through:
· mastering the context of history and the present, i.e. an economic history of the world, globalisation, global political economy, global commons and current global status;
· mastering consciousness of the world, i.e. universal ethics and values, sociology, ecology, culture and key global trends;
· mastering consciousness of the self, i.e. a moral judgement of self in the presence of the call for stewardship (metanoao); and
· mastering consciousness of the conscience, i.e. the ethos and intent of the Social Contract with Business as a means to deliver humanity’s global sustainability mandate.
The outcome is an ability to apply the vocabulary of wisdom, love and courage in the competitive world of commerce.
Entrepreneurial stewardship, through:
· mastering the tools of holistic decision-making, such as creativity, critical reasoning, systems thinking, decision making techniques, and intergenerational business models;
· mastering the tools of buy-in of decisions, such as communication, negotiation, influencing, crossing cultural divides, dealing with power, ambition and ego; and
· mastering the art of implementation.
The outcome should be an ability to exercise entrepreneurial judgement in the turnaround to a world of inclusive globalization.
These two knowledge clusters should be considered as pre-requisites to the world’s premier business educational qualifications, such as the MBA and the chartered accountancy, commercial law and fund management.
The Social Contract with Business’ new conscientization way of education will empower us to “. . . harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered fire.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
Dr Jopie Coetzee
University of South Africa
Author of the Social Contract with Business – beyond the quest for global sustainability
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