Producing and presenting my weekly It’s All Good Radio Show has quite literally changed the way I view the world.
Since September 2012, It’s All Good Radio Show has showcased individuals, companies and organisations who are challenging the norm and who are changing the way we live and work for the better.
Choosing to immerse myself in a very real world where people truly care for and support each other, every day I discover all manner of different types of business and enterprise – all united by the same desire to help and support others for the common good.
Yet in my day job as a community career coach I have seen countless people suffering as a result of decisions made by those administering process driven systems which leaves individuals who are reliant on these systems feeling helpless and unsupported.
So it would appear that two separate realities exist.
1. Deep care for the common good.
2. Unconscious disconnect from others.
The work we do everyday fuels either one of these two realities.
So which reality are YOU fuelling?
Now multiply your individual work by millions and that gives us our economy.
In the run up to the General Election there is quite naturally a lot of talk about the economy.
Typical discussions focus on the need for growth – but is this really what we should be striving for and focusing our conversations on?
How about we change the conversation and start from a different standpoint.
The fact is that our economy is not a separate entity. It depends on society which depends on the Earth and its resources.
So the conversation needs to start with how do we all focus on creating an economy which enables a fair, just and more equal society while recognising we live on a finite planet?
The answer is that we work differently. The WAY we work needs to change. We follow the lead of those individuals, companies and organisations who are challenging the norm and changing the way we live and work for the common good.
New business models are already in place and have demonstrated scalability however their stories are drowned out by the dominant rhetoric of the business as usual profit maximisation growth model.
Yet the business as usual model has omitted one huge cost from its finances and everyone has been complicit in ignoring that cost. The Earth is a supplier to the business and without its resources the business cannot function and yet no recognition is given for its vital role. And on top of that, those resources are finite, so why is it that these highly intelligent, highly paid people have this blindspot?
Maybe it’s because they are comfortable where they are. They have a nice home, money in the bank, regular holidays, a job they enjoy – why would you want to change what is working for you? This is what I term unconscious disconnect from others.
But what happens if you discover the work you are doing and you are benefitting from is causing someone else to suffer? Would you change your own way of working and living for the common good?
Tough question eh.
The undeniable fact is that the structure of the business you work in will dictate both your focus and the way you work. That in turn shapes the society we live in.
If we only give credence to businesses which use the profit maximisation model, then we lose so many ways that business and employees can contribute to the common good.
What our world needs now are problem solvers, fixers and peacemakers to help us repair after an intensive period of unequal growth.
To do that we need to break away from the dominance of the business as usual profit maximisation model as within its narrow confines it doesn’t give us the flexibility to operate at a human local level.
We need to support a mixed economy which enables a variety of different business structures to thrive. This then reflects the diverse skills and needs of the population and provides an environment where work on the common good can flourish. The legal structure of an organisation quite literally dictates the scope and nature of the work that can be done.
There are so many different ways we can structure our everyday commercial activities which put people and planet at the heart of all we do.
One of the best examples of this is the emergence of the sharing economy. What I love about this way of working is that it is re-defines the way we look at the resources we need and use, and gets consumers engaged in fun and inclusive ways.
Take car sharing – not only does it save carbon emissions, but it also saves you money on your transport costs and opens up new friendships and networks. Or how about Airbnb which gives people more freedom to travel and experience life as a local in towns and cities at the same time as giving the property earner an additional income. JustPark solves the problem of parking by connecting drivers with people with driveways which are vacant.
At a base level, you can see it’s all a case of supply and demand but companies who are part of the sharing economy enable consumers to reduce their impact on the world and enjoy so many additional benefits.
Users of these services are growing daily which is good news for their pockets and the use of the Earth’s resources. And what many of the sharing economy businesses do is through the combination of technology and encouraging human interaction they are sparking economic activity and inclusion at a local community level.
The growth of social enterprise gives us another indicator of the desire for a different way of doing business. Social Enterprise UK, the national body for the Social Enterprise community gives us these facts:
Social enterprises and co-operatives are outperforming just-for-profit businesses; alternative banks have better returns on assets, lower volatility and higher growth; and a growing proportion of start-ups are socially-driven. Consumers are buying more from social enterprises, and joining co-operatives. In fact the UK now has more people who are member-owners of co-operatives than direct shareholders in businesses.
As I mentioned above, the legal structure of an organisation can transform the way business is done. Alongside this enabling laws, policies and priorities need to be in place.
Social Enterprise UK have set out their own manifesto ahead of the General Election. They are appealing for a pro-social economy so that regulation no longer gets in the way of smart, pro-social economic action. They also call for a new approach to land ownership, finance and the management of our most critical institutions, which can spread prosperity across communities and renew crumbling social and economic infrastructure. They state that communities where citizens have a real stake in each other’s future are more stable and resilient.
What I’ve learnt from working in the community is that people care deeply. They want to work locally and they want to improve their own environments with their own unique set of skills. The will is there and the new models of doing business for the common good are proven and have multiple benefits, however enabling policies, regulation, finance and structuring community focused employment opportunities have to catch up.
What we need now is for the enabling policies at Government level to be activated so that local economies within a fair, just and equal society can flourish.
Which political party has common good at the heart of the way they govern?
Vote for the party with common good as its mission and this will give us all permission to care.