Paul Palmarozza: If I can… Community Interest Company
Part 1: How We Think
the following We are going to look at the subject of values-based business from a practical perspective. Our recently launched E-Learning app, Ethical Entrepreneur addresses the application of fine human values in the performance of 9 core management functions leads to the establishment of a sustainable, responsible business. We explore business activities in terms of:
1. How We Think
2. How We Relate to Others
3. How We Act
The aim is to show that by working to fine values we can demonstrate clearly that business can be:
- Ethical & Effective
- Principled & Profitable
- Conscious & Commercial
We will cover the material in 3 articles, the first being How We Think in our daily business activities.
The Situation Today
My observation of business practices over a business career spanning 54 years is that there has been a gradual shift away from the core values of hard work, honesty, loyalty and service in favour of intense efforts directed at obtaining short term results for me, usually financial. The ‘me’ in most cases is the individual, but this sense of greed and excess quickly spreads within an organisation, especially when the leaders are the ones setting the bad example.
As standards slip, more people begin to think that the focus on short term gain, at any cost, is the normal and accepted way things are done in business; ‘everyone is doing it’. Accepting this error in judgement as the norm is the next step down the slippery slope. One example of the slippery slope is the increased use of illegal drugs by sportsmen, as exposed in recent years. Winning becomes more important than obeying the law, than playing fair.
When looking at values many people have a double standard. There is one standard for family, friends, home life and another for business. For a vast majority of us it is clearly wrong and unacceptable to lie to our family or friends, but for an increasingly large number of people it is OK to lie in business, if you can get away with it.
Here are 2 comments on the state of the business community:
The corporate leader as a hero has been replaced in the mind of many Americans by a view of individuals that are immoral, incompetent and interested only in enriching themselves. Greed is addictive. Money has replaced morality. Dalai Llama
Money has replaced morality. That is why it is so important that ethics be brought more to the fore-front of our decision making.
Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organised crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. Kofi Annan
Management Functions Guided by Fine Values
We are going to set out some guidelines for the effective performance of some important management functions in running an enterprise, addressing the mental, emotional/social and physical actions required.
What we will show is that natural human values, which are a reflection of our inherent spiritual nature, are in fact the best guides for business as well as for life. When these values are applied in the performance of 9 core management functions, then business qualities such as efficiency, excellence, profitability manifest. These results become the foundation for a sustainable, responsible business.
HOW WE THINK
How We Think – We need to establish a stable and balanced state of mind when making decisions.
In business and in life we continually need to make decisions. What enables us to make a good and right decision is when the mind is stable and balanced and thus able to view with clarity all the factors involved.
The values that help bring about that state of mind are:
Mindful Awareness/Being Present, Inner Stillness and Calmness.
For those of you familiar with Mindfulness and Meditation, they are being used increasingly in schools as well as businesses to relieve stress and to help bring about a quieter, still state of mind. While we have all experienced such moments of stillness, the direction given is to go there more often, especially when making difficult decisions.
In today’s rush we all think too much – seek too much – want too much and forget about the joy of just being. Eckhart Tolle
There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge and stability that comes from knowing how to contact your inner silence. Deepak Chopra
How We Think – We need to be clear about the vision, values and the long-term sustainable objectives of the organisation.
The long-term perspective of the enterprise is as important as meeting its short-term goals. Here the values of Service, Duty/Responsibility and Courage/Fearlessness are important.
Service is at the heart of business. Everything we do involves the heart in one way or another for without the heart there is no life. If our business analogy is to hold, then the heart must permeate all aspects of the business; from launch to termination, from the conception of an idea to the final consumption of the end product.
In order to provide a high-quality business service, objectivity is required on the part of the both parties in the assessment of the need and of the ability of the vendor organisation to meet the need effectively. Clarity and realism are necessary, not imaginings, wishful thinking or cleverness. This requirement continues through decision making, commitment and delivery. Through all this, the quality of the final service will depend on:
• the alignment of the motives and values of seller and buyer
• the degree to which each party is actually in the present moment, that is, attentive to what is happening
• an honest acknowledgement of their respective contributions
It is common sense that when customers are well satisfied with the service received, faith and confidence are developed in the provider such that the customers are more likely to come back and buy again even if difficulties are experienced at times. The organisation develops a good brand which is a prime factor for a sustainable business.
We are encouraged to focus, to give our full attention to our duty, avoiding the mental comparisons with the tasks and rewards of others, which distracts us from doing what is needed. Our duties are linked to our talents and when we make best use of our talents in the service of all we are making a major contribution to society.
The true source of rights is duty. If we discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. Mahatma Gandhi
The entrepreneur needs to be clear about the vision for the enterprise and how this will be sustained in the long run. The impulse for me which prompted the founding of a company came in a creative moment of stillness. I had a vision of the company as a whole with a clear picture of the service we would offer, the users that would benefit which included an international market. The inspiration was followed and after 14 years we became a publicly listed company on the London AIM Stock Exchange.
Fearlessness – We all know that fear about what might happen in the future can mess up our mind, causing agitation such that good, clear decisions are impossible. Without fear we are able to remain balanced and poised in the present moment. I have found in my business career that there were times when I had to put fears and doubts aside and step into the unknown.
How We Think – To maintain clarity and balance, there needs to be freedom from excessive desires, habitual reactions and claims for success or failure
Another important aspect of how we think is how we meet the inevitable problems created by excessive desires, habits e.g. ‘We have always done it that way!’ and the claims for the result. When we are in a weakened frame of mind, one where there is no balance or stillness, then we become subject to the pressures from peers, from reams of advertising encouraging us to want more, consume more, travel more etc which make it more likely that we will continue to follow our habitual patterns.
The important values here are Temperance/Moderation, Self-Control and Detachment.
When these values are lived the important business qualities that result are:
DECISIVENESS, DEPENDABILITY, CLARITY
The next article will address How We Relate to Others in our business activities.
You can see more about the Ethical Entrepreneur atwww.ethicalentrepreneur.org where you can see demonstration versions of the 3 basic elements of our offering:
1. A free daily email version;
2. An E-Learning version including more than 100 videos with many interviews of experienced business people telling their values-based business stories;
3. An E-Book which goes into more depth on the subject including video interviews, some of Business school professors speaking about the importance of values and ethics in business today.
If I can…CIC is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company and we are offering the E-Learning course, which includes the E-Book, at a low price of £50 and the Kindle version of E-Book separately for only £5.
As ORB members ourselves, we are also offering a special 50 % discount for
fellow members for the E-Learning course/E-Book i.e. a purchase price of £25. If this is of interest, please email: email@example.com to receive your promo code.
If you have any difficulties or questions, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org