A Circularity Of Ideas On Business Innovation4 March, 2016 / Articles
It looks as if they were right after all: the world is round. Despite the best blocking efforts of much of mainstream media, there is a circular flow of good ideas on business innovation from Indiana in the United States to Barcelona in Spain. It’s just that all those in the path of the flow might, as yet, be unaware that they could be part of a greater movement for change. And yet they have something very important in common: they are reflecting or listening to the so-called ‘Millennials’ – the next generation.
Let’s just put these young people into some sort of context. Writing about the U.S. presidential primaries in the Weekend Financial times last weekend, Jacob Weisberg, chairman of the Slate Group and author of Ronald Reagan said: “The most striking fact about Mr Sanders’ support is that, although at 74 he is one of the oldest candidates ever to run, he has the youngest supporters.” He went on to talk about what “these young Democratic voters are saying with their curious vogue for Old Man Sanders.” These included many different things, including “that corporate money has corrupted politics…and that they find Mr. Sanders authentic and sincere.”
But here’s what resounded. Mr. Weisberg said: “But more than any of these particular messages, Millennial supporters of Mr. Sanders are expressing a philosophical shift. They are saying they reject the current configuration of liberal capitalism as a system capable of producing a decent society.” It is that rejection that could yet throw up new models of doing business. These Millennials have caught the attention of institutional investors with their values and business has a lot to learn from them – if nothing else, they are its future customers.
Technological innovation, and that wonderful connector- the internet – allows people of all backgrounds and means to judge for themselves, bypassing what is reported and fed to them in the business and mainstream media. It is quite clearly the reason why there is continual surprise at the levels of support for the likes of politicians like Bernie Sanders in the U.S. and Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom.
At IESE business school in Barcelona this coming weekend a two-day student-run conference on business innovation calls itself Doing Good, Doing Well.
While in Indiana, TCC – a Verizon wireless retailer – has successfully launched a ‘culture of good.’ I can hear the skeptics already…is it a con, is it ‘just branding’, is it a last-ditch attempt at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or is it just marketing to Millennials? Well, if it is the last one, it’s working. By the year 2020, Millennials are expected to make up half of the U.S. workforce, TCC tells me. But this generation already makes up 85% of TCC’s employee base, which is spread out across 40 states.
The company regularly surveys its workforce, and quotes a study that recently found 70% of Millennials said a company’s commitment to its local community would influence their decision to work there.
Ryan McCarty, TCC’s director of community and employee engagement, began the ‘culture of good’ movement in 2013, whereby the company gives back to the local community. His background, he tells me, was in non-profit organizations and philanthropy, while TCC’s CEO Scott Moorehead had only done ‘for profit’ work, but with a strong family background in philanthropy.
“We both had passion about leaving legacy and funding success in a different way. ‘Doing good’ just felt like the right thing to do – it was never just about CSR, or about anything like employee retention” Mr McCarty says. Yet a recent survey of TCC employees says that 92% say the ‘Culture of Good’ gives them a sense of fulfillment in their work, 84% say it contributes to them staying employed by TCC and 82% say the ‘Culture of Good’ has helped build better communication skills between employees and helped form stronger team bonds in the workplace.
Go figure. It isn’t only the young who might be rejecting “the current configuration of liberal capitalism as a system capable of producing a decent society” to quote Mr. Weisberg again. At the end of March, London sees the launch of a Centre for Progressive Capitalism.
There’s something in the air, and it might be more than just a teasing hint of Spring.