Ricardo Semler, owner, chairman, and „soul“ of his company, took over the authoritarian-run family business from his father 30 years ago, under the condition that he would „democratize“ it. The consistency and rigor applied in order to make this transformation possible thoroughly impressed me, in all ways – the principles, models, tools, strategies, etc. There exist very few similar examples to compare to world-wide, that are so comprehensive and unique. Just how exactly he accomplished that, you can read in THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
Johannes Werbach, the owner of NewTec is true to himself and the company, since he himself embodies it with such ease. He is not particularly visionary or spiritual, just a wholeheartedly convinced technician. Convinced that there is something more meaningful out there for him, his company and his employees, other than profit. About 3 years ago, after getting overwhelmed with problem-solving for his company, he started to develop the forces of a self-assembled organization. Just how, exactly? You can find out in the book THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
35 year-old Bas van Abel collaborated with 10 others to put together the first “fair” smartphone. A smartphone that doesn’t use any resources from conflict-zones, or the workforce of Chinese laborers in horrible conditions, nor does it involve filling up the bank accounts of the greedy rich. Sound naive? Bas van Abel, who launched the project 2 years ago, certainly is not. He knows that he’s not going to save the world with his smartphone. “ This project has more to do with triggering change, rather than trying to solve all the problems in the world at once.” This Dutch guy wants to demonstrate what we can achieve when we give it a go. In 2010, and with 8 employees, a start-up was put together with the support of the non-profit Amsterdam based Waag Soceity. The goal was to create a “fair” smartphone for consumers that had the technology and a competitive price on par with established providers, but one that was not created with the use of conflicted resources and unfair labor conditions. How exactly they accomplished that, you can read in my book – THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
Helmut Lind is the head of Sparda Bank in Munich. He isn’t interested in hard figures, instead he gauges the well being of the company by the good that they do. He wants to join in as one of the first companies to focus on a healthy balance of well being for the common good, as well as a good financial balance. To get there he defines a set of values – human dignity, solidarity, ecological sustainability, social justice, democratic participation, and transparency. To become a business invested in the balance of the common good, and the interest of individual collaborators that also provides concrete criteria and measures as well.
How exactly? You can find out in my book THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
Ellen MacArthur, one of the world’s best sailors, has constantly pushed things to the limit, ever since her love of sailing began. After achieving the great feat of breaking several world records, she felt that it was time for a new beginning in her life. She had learned one of life’s main principles while at sea: Not only to conserve the resources at hand on the boat, but also to follow the cycle of nature, and understand that in nature there is no waste. In the cycle of nature, everything is used, all that comes to life and all that decays. It is the food chain of nature – that which is “waste” becomes fuel for new life. Unfortunately, our current economy works in exactly the opposite way –in exponential periods, we operate as a “linear economy” instead of a “circular economy” and with that, we reach the limits of our growth. How so? You can read about this in my book THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
Atlanta-based InterfaceFlor is the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet. The founder and former chairman Ray Anderson, who passed away on August 20th, 2011, was the founder and leader for the “sustainability development” of the company. Ever since 1994, after reading Paul Hawken’s book: “Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability”, he had been greatly influenced and motivated to make a difference. In it, there is the story of the designer David Oakey, and his development of a carpet tile product called “Entropy”. In it, he invited his design team to go outside and experience first-hand what natural, organic design actually means, and how nature might design a carpet. He told them to first come back after they had really understood the principle of the lesson. When they came back, the answer was as simple as it is impressive. In nature no two things are alike. Everything is unique. That is the foundation for the “Biomimicry and carpet” system which has led the group to a completely new way of thinking and a new, modified business model. How exactly? You can read more about it in my book THE NEXT WAVE in BUSINESS
Identity and strategy:
We see our company as a modern community of people, with as little hierarchical structure as possible. Not only do we want to encourage the competence of our staff, but also allow for the personal development of character. At dm, it is a goal to create a space which nurtures personal fulfillment. The dm-spirit – our products and store environment can easily be copied by competitors, but what makes us stand out is our inner stance, the place we operate from.
For us at dm, the basis for cooperation is grounded in collegial trust. At the heart of dm culture lies an overall positive, optimistic view of humanity coupled with confidence. A negative view of humanity only ushers in aspects that make it impossible to build a positive and effective corporate culture. Distrust, pessimism, control mania, greed, self-centeredness, and yes, egoism all muddle good business.
When I am disappointed, it does nobody any good to become negative about everything. It is futile to pile on the stress and try to control everything. Control is evasive, and people and situations move on.
Every human carries with them the wish to grow and bear fruit. In a holistically run company, ROI (Return of investment) and ROS (return of sales) can be an important factor for success, but in order to provide sustainability for all intents and purposes, sometimes it’s important to let go of the reins. Management isn’t there to put on the pressure, instead, it’s all about engaging in positive development. The role of the supervisor is no longer about giving detailed orders, but to think strategically, and to lay the ground for fundamental steps to be taken. Managers need to keep in mind that setting a strategic path will only be fruitful when they can help strengthen their employee’s awareness of the game plan and what it calls for. It isn’t just about “managing” people, it is about encouraging their awareness. Like to read more about it?