Happy New Year: Do Better

Page 1 of The Responsible Company by Yvon Choinard and Vincent Stanley.

Happy New Year: Now Let’s Do Better

The responsibility of a business to stakeholders, like its customers, people and communities, and to broader society is not managed in a department or a report. Responsible business is not the work of others. It is not a glossy wash you put over the top of the way you work to make things look better for stakeholders.


The key word is responsibility. Responsibility begins and ends with how you make decisions in your work. That responsibility applies to everyone. Responsibility is not a good intention, a wise donation or a clever offset. Responsibility means owning the need for better decisions and actions that maximise the value that you create and minimise the waste.

If you are not taking into account the wider implications for society and sustainability of your decisions and actions, then you can do better. You can make sure your decisions and actions add more shared value tomorrow than they did today. The decisions will be different for every organisation, but they will make both the business and the society better. That is good business.

Social Responsibility is Here

You will not escape responsibility. Our social world is making business more networked and more social. With that networking comes a great increase in transparency and accountability to your stakeholders. Every day businesses are being questioned on unthinking actions and decisions.  If you are not stepping up to better manage your responsibilities, expect someone to be helping you to change. You do not need to become an ideologue or to become a not-for-profit, you just need to believe in people and want to improve.  By looking at a broader frame, you can make smarter business decisions that create shared value in society.

Do Better

Do Better. Start with one step. It is that simple. Find ways to make decisions with better impacts and less waste. Enable your people to help you in this journey of continuous improvement.

Start making yourself aware of the options to do better. Read the Patagonia story and other resources on shared value. Measure the impacts that matter to you and your people. Ask your people to contribute on what matters to them and how you can do better. Make small improvements every day.

Your business will reward you for the new attention. Do something to get yourself started on the path to better business.

Enterprise Social fosters Social Enterprise

Two new trends are on the rise in business at the moment and they both use the words social and enterprise. Importantly these trends are often more closely connected than many realise. The trends are:

Enterprise Social Media, the use of social media to foster connection and collaboration inside an organisation; and
Social Enterprises, an organisation which exists to fulfil a social purpose by leveraging the approaches of the business world

Enterprise social media drives a more social outlook in any organisation where the culture will allow it. At the heart of the connection is that these trends force us to reflect on human concerns like purpose, community and our legacy – enterprise social media simply makes us social.

Enterprise Social Media fosters Purpose

Enabling your employees and other partners to connect and share their stories and experiences will quickly surface the themes of your purpose. Discussing and sharing these examples helps build a stronger sense of community in an organisation and deepens engagement. Importantly, the social network will also offer a forum to discuss, clarify and resolve of the conflicts of purpose that organisations face. Purpose is not a statement issued by management. Purpose is an ongoing dialogue with everyone in the organisation and it’s stakeholders.

Enterprise Social Media fosters Openness

Enabling your people to share their passions, interest, experiences and concerns is going to bring the surrounding community into your organisation. People now have a tool to collaborate on community and social issues. This can range from awareness building to forming groups of like minded employees to organising volunteering and activism. The more open your organisation the better it will be at responding to social needs and feedback.

Enterprise Social Media fosters Accountability

A highly engaged community can become a conscience for Purpose. If employees have a concern about delivery to Purpose or the wider social impacts, they have a forum to discuss and seek action. Importantly this is a public and transparent forum where they may have like minded colleagues. These conversations build accountability in managers across the organisation to explain the connection of their decisions to Purpose, to the creation of social value and to broader community impacts

Enterprise Social Media fosters Leadership

Organisations are full of people who have leadership potential but lack the impetus and a first follower. Social media offers a low risk environment for these first time leaders to connect with their personal purposes and to attract followers. It also offers an environment where leadership for the commmunity can be recognized by the community. Building the leadership voice, action & reward for leadership in your organisation will enable social value.

Enterprise Social Media fosters Innovation

Social value can be created in many traditional commercial organisations through adding a little innovation to everyday activities. Enabling your employees to make suggestions and work together to realise these ideas using enterprise social media can accelerate that process by bouncing unconventional ideas off traditional processes. Employee ideas can add social value by suggesting new challenges to tackle, a change in sourcing, to better ways to leverage waste and even debating where an organisation creates value for customers and the broader community.

Purpose+Openness+Accountability+Leadership+Innovation=More Social Enterprise

People crave purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to society. My experience suggests that given the chance people will leverage enterprise social media to seek to create additional social value in and through their colleagues and organisation. These conversations can generate deep pride and engagement.

The main barrier to this effect is a culture unwilling to allow the challenging conversations required. Our work in fostering more social enterprise is to get out of the way of our people, embrace the growing potential for more social value and do what we can to build stronger purpose and social impact.