The main presupposition of this presentation is that the combination of democratic government and market economies has had a hugely liberating and prosperity generating effect in many parts of the world.
Simultaneously however, we can increasingly observe the limitations of theories, policies and business practices that are based on the belief that market forces automatically and autonomously deliver desired results. Thus, the job at hand is to become smarter in using markets and business for creating shared prosperity and societal well being within the natural capacity of our planet.
After demonstrating the global context and its relevance for business this presentation provides insights and stimulus for how we can make better use of business for a more equitable and more sustainable planet.
As a global community we are facing two main challenges. First, the environmental challenge where broad based consensus exists today that we adversely affect the capacity of our planet to support life. The second challenge we face is the distributional challenge. Around the globe we increasingly find levels of inequality that are putting at risk social peace and cohesion both of which are indispensable foundations of prosperous and thriving societies. The relevance for business is equally strong as it is evident. Public trust in business leaders and government officials as well as employee engagement levels have been declining for years as many people see a growing lack of congruence between their personal beliefs and values and those values that are driving business decisions. However, plentiful are also the examples of businesses that seek to actively contribute to finding solutions to the challenges we face, acting on strong values and creating value for society at large. These are great organizations demonstrating true business leadership.
Mental models matter, they are the lens through which we see the world around us. The mental model under which great organizations operate is that all business is fundamentally human interaction and its purpose is derived from how it serves others. Business is people working with people to create value for people.
Great organizations are united in being driven by strong values, they have a non negotiable core of what they believe is the right thing to do and follow through with it. The main driving values of such organizations are purpose and legitimacy, passion with integrity and empathy.
The management paradigm resulting from the mental model and drivers introduced above is what we have coined the three stepped approach to humanistic management. It consists of firstly the unconditional respect for human dignity, secondly the integration of ethical reflection in managerial decision making and, thirdly, the active and ongoing engagement with stakeholders.
Dr. Ernst von Kimakowitz is Director of the Humanistic Management Center, an independent think tank, learning institution and advisory firm and of the executive education provider Ethics First.