There is no doubt that we are living and working in difficult economic times. New business is traditionally as hard to find and cashflow issues, for many businesses, is the insomniant bedfellow of enterprise. So how to create a difference; how to make a difference. Well I hope to provide a solution to both; ethiconomics. And what is ethiconomics™? Well, I define it as follows:
(eth′ik’ə näm′iks) noun:
– a system of practices and personal values for ethical business in the global economy.
“A guide to an improved, rewarding life leading to sustainable business relationships and personal fulfilment.”
There are four cornerstones to ethiconomics; personal values, authenticity, change and action. The premise is straightforward; we have to deliver the changes that we wish to see and by integrating authentic, ethical values into action (in business and in “life”) we will deliver sustainable change.
Personal, ethical values should not require further explanation. We all know “good” from “bad”, “right” from “wrong”. It is how we deliver these values of ours that is the key issue. We should all strive to be authentic; to actually have the confidence and courage to walk our talk. The genuinely add value to not just our shareholders but to all of our stakeholders – employees, partners, suppliers and community too. We may have to modify our particular behaviour to the particular environment that we are in at the time but we should not have to change our essential self. We can be multi-faceted without being two-faced. Action, again, needs no further expansion. It is all well and good having good ideas. It is all well and good having a “vision” of the future but without actually acting upon our thoughts we will change precious little. Action is the only way.
My first book, An A-Z Introduction to Ethiconomics™, will be out this month and provides a complete and concise introduction to the ethos. My next book, Applied Ethiconomics™ detailing practical ways to introduce ethiconomical principles into your business, will be out this year. I am building a personal development program that delivers and develops the personal elements of ethiconomics – Astound the World in 80 Days. I am not simply telling you this by way of advertorial but to prove that I do walk my talk. I am trying to build valuable products for sustainable growth for myself and all of my customers.
I will, however, provide at this point some of the “bigger picture” thinking that represent the overall intent of ethiconomics; to change the way the World does business.
Win/Win – this is a well espoused, if not practiced, business concept. It is generally accepted as when both parties are better off in the outcome after a negotiation has been complete. If you extend the principle to business contracts and arrangements then the benefits are obvious. I would like to develop this more though to a win/win/win/win situation. That being for you/the customer/the employees/the community. An example? Well, contribute any “above budget” returns from each and every deal into the employee and community pots. Use it to add to your training and development budget to invest in your greatest business asset, the staff. Investment in them is sustainable and less likely to depreciate. Use it to create and develop community projects. An authentic corporate social responsibility program is more than just a plaque in the foyer. Deliver it, fund it, take action
Volunteering -another way to integrate and support the community would be to formalise volunteering efforts. I would like to see each and every employee be given one, fully paid day a month to work within a local cause or volunteer organisation. The employee gets a chance to deliver their respective skills and expertise to the volunteer sector, and they get to see fundamentally different working environments and conditions. The volunteer sector get expertise and resources, the company delivers genuine social support.
It may not be entirely faesible to formalise this but there are other ways. I was talking recently to the manager of a citizens advice office in Manchester. Their biggest frustration was not the extending hours and the ever increasing in-flow of “customers” but that the employees – permanent and volunteer alike – were just not of the quality required to deliver effective solutions. The staff were woefully short of many skills. My suggestion – well how about the larger organisations in the area provide training? They have immense resources in terms of skilled staff and rooms so why not offer these to local community groups and charitable organisations. Offering training in such matters as communication, staff management, human resources, even in selling and marketing would be invaluable to the social organisations and require relatively little investment from the companies. Just the inclination, a room and a few staff – no money need change hands! Many of these organisations work as not-for-profit but they still have to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible so why not pass on practical, useful business skills for free?
I would like to see business valued in a new, innovative way too. Instead of the respective share price being subject to the vagaries of the bull-and-bear speculators, what if it’s worth was based upon the relative value that it delivered to it’s stakeholders, not just the shareholders. Naïve, maybe. Complex, possibly. Beneficial, certainly. If each stakeholder group had direct input into the actual share value of the business then it would instantly re-focus activities away from the simple financial element. How happy are the staff? How effective is their development programs? How fairly are their suppliers managed? How much do they actually contribute to their community? How are the bonuses calculated and paid? How are profits distributed?
Food for thought I hope.
Positive, sustainable change needs several component elements; innovative thinking, intent and commitment, leadership and vision being just a few.
I hope to embrace all of these and more.
I hope to deliver social change and personal responsibility.
I hope to inspire a community of enterprising entrepreneurs and supporters that are willing to think differently and act differently; to be the vanguard of change.
I hope to find fellow Ethiconomists™ amongst you all, to join me on my quest and remember, “if you have no hope, there is none”.