Why profits alone won’t lead to sustainable business success

To create an enduring, successful organization, we are wise to understand the different dimensions of business, writes Fred Kofman in his book Conscious Business

The first dimension is the one with which we are most familiar: business results, making money, increasing shareholder value, growth, and gaining market share.  The driving concern here is effectiveness, efficiency, reliability, and attaining maximum output with the minimum consumption of resources. 

To succeed, our organizations must be able to achieve goals, pursue a vision, and fulfill its mission in a way that enhances its capacity to continue to do so in the future. 

Fred labels this realm of business as the impersonal “It” – essentially everything on the right side of the Ken Wilber‘s Integral framework which maps reality into four quadrants according to individual/ collective (y axis) and interior/ exterior (x axis).  It includes all the operations and administrative tasks of business, including property, plant, equipment, technology, the financial structure, organizational design, procurement, sales, and marketing.

Success in these areas is essential, without which our organizations will fail. 

And, it is not enough.     

Problems occur when managers and investors focus solely on the impersonal “It” and neglect the left side of the integral framework involving the internal “We” and “I.” 

Because human beings are social beings.  Business success also depends on the leadership of people, writes Fred.  

The bottom left “We” quadrant involves the interpersonal, relational aspects of business involving trust, respect, connectedness, and belonging.  

The goal in this quadrant is to build “a network of collaborative relationships, a community in which people feel included, respected, and enabled to contribute their best,” states Fred.

Monetary compensation alone is not enough.  To give their full engagement, people demand to feel accepted, respected, supported, acknowledged, and challenged. 

If people do not cooperate and respect each other, the enterprise will also fail.  Which is why creating a strong workplace culture built upon shared beliefs, values, and norms is so important.  Doing so lets people know how to act and what they can expect from others.  Success here involves communication, negotiation, and coordination.

But we’re not done yet.  More tomorrow.
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Reflection: Assess my organization’s health on the quadrants outlined above.

Action: Journal about my assessment.  Take action.  

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