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The below article is based on a series of Theory of Change discussions with Jericho and partner organisations, on how business can gear its activities towards good society goals. This article was created by Blueprint for Better Business. Contributions from other partner organisations working in this space will be posted soon.
Our work is built on the premise that business can be a force for good if it is inspired and guided by a purpose that serves society. If business operates to a purpose that serves society and respects the dignity of people, it can help create both a better society and better business.
Our belief is that the dominant model of business purpose – maximising shareholder value – is deeply flawed and that an available alternative exists at least in the UK context within existing law and capital markets. The change needed is fundamentally a mind-set shift embracing both organisational purpose and also how people are assumed to be motivated at work.
Our theory of change is that we will have the greatest impact if we:
- Focus on the largest companies (UK head quartered or with large UK operations) – these bring the most challenge so are best placed to validate the thinking & have the largest leverage effect through their size. They also have large supply chains and so can influence and help small and medium sized companies
- Focus on senior leadership: their sponsorship is vital to allow a change to flourish – real change is made beyond the CEO and Board and so we need the means to influence those driving the change as well. We are therefore working with senior people below CEO as well as those coaches and consultants who have real credibility in using these insights to stimulate lasting change.
- Influence those who influence senior leadership to make the change of mind-set less pioneering and risky. These include investors, academics, consultants, media, NGO’s and politicians.
- Our aim is to change the dominant discourse around the purpose of business and what motivates people and present an available alternative.
- Our tone is positive in seeking to release unrealised potential in people and organisations. We believe business can be a force for good in society and that it is in their mutual interests to do so. It is therefore a positive move towards opportunity and fulfilment rather than an obligation that is satisfied by a compliance mentality.
- We engage in dialogue with and convene workshops and events, for business leaders, advisors and representatives from wider society, to inspire and support them in overcoming the challenges and opportunities of staying true to a purpose that serves society.
- We are working to create a group of committed CEOs who are prepared to personally and publically commit to living out a purpose that serves society through their core business activities.
- We are also seeking to build confidence in a group of practitioners in corporates to help them share learning with each other and form a support network.
- We work 1:1 with a small group of companies to encourage them to experiment with our approach with us acting as a coach or critical friend – enabling us to learn and share what we learn with others.
- By sharing our thinking and building a network of coaches & consultants we hope to help them reach a wider number of companies through their work that we are unable to reach (including SMEs).
- We curate & share evidence, research and learning to support our thinking and approach.
- We seek to collaborate with others who have similar or complementary objectives, recognising that the broader mind-set change we are seeking to promote needs groups to work together, and is far more likely to succeed if there are shared high level goals and a broad collaborative mentality.
This is a second in a series of Theory of Change articles from Jericho Chambers and fellow travellers on the road to how we combine business and the common good. More will follow, plus seminars and events, as we build a bigger and more influential community of people and organisations who know that enterprise and doing good are going to have to be combined.