The world of business is changing. Consumers are demanding more -- more value, more quality, more responsibility -- and more companies are striving to keep up.
As information becomes more transparent, people are starting to realize that brands are not siloed and that businesses touch many parts of our world and society. A bank is no longer just a bank; it's an international institution that can directly affect our daily lives (and livelihoods), which mean its operations are important to us.
The more a business remains an opaque brand, the bigger the disconnect between what it says and what it does. What's happening between the product factory in China and the glossy ad in Wired Magazine? Any misalignment of mission and action will invariably lead to consumer mistrust, resulting in people heading elsewhere to fill their needs around genuine authenticity.
Now is the time to gain ground and better the world. The industrial era modes of doing business (linear, resource extracting, need creating) have lead to many of the problems of our day. But many of these businesses were founded on socially driven missions -- to create better health care products and provide products that create joy for people. It's time to evolve these companies by using the new knowledge we've gained in the last era to correct abuses, realize latent potential, and realign mission with action. It's time to innovate and evolve those mission statements for the 21st century.
That's right. I'd like to see global brands using their mission to drive business and better the world. We're calling it Corporate Social Innovation (CSI).
In my opinion, CSI encompasses three 'I's: Innovation, Investment, and Impact.
The greatest potential a company has for doing good are in the areas it affects on a daily basis and innovating within existing core competencies. Some argue that this is just good business. Exactly.
Start by looking at everyone the business touches -- shareholders, stakeholders, and consumers -- and create a collaborative relationship. How does everyone create more value for each other? Once seen through this lens, new opportunities will surface.
Producers can tackle supply chain issues by solving root problems like living conditions. Companies can create more holistic, socially oriented and powerful products by working across departments -- linking community investment, product development and marketing together. And companies can find new markets for their products through socially minded initiatives. All while inviting consumers to participate in the entire process.
I previously wrote an article on how social entrepreneurs offer a great testing bed for innovative models. Innovation must remain a core value of a company or incentives will quickly shift to maintaining market share instead of creating new value, which is not good business.
Real investment, by the virtue of the word, means a tie to those you touch. Good investment means that you do well when those you invest in (stakeholders, consumers and communities) do well, which incentivizes an additive approach -- that by nature is long term. Corporations have tons of opportunities for investment:
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