As business is currently done, there is a high probability of a few corporations aggregating most of the business to be done through rather cutthroat means, buying political influence and then having enough money to either spend exorbitant amounts of media advertising or just buying the media companies themselves -- in short, a set-up for megalithic monopolies that ultimately generate money from money, not necessarily only reliant on the sale of goods and services.
Of course there are antitrust laws in place in the U.S. and elsewhere to guard against this, but these are rarely looked at, let alone enforced, because of the influence multinational corporations have on all branches of government. If we are going to evolve a new way of doing business, it's going to be because individuals have realized within themselves that there's a better way to do business and find similarly minded people with whom to do so.
The individuals who feel that business can be done with an entirely different attitude is growing quickly, nearly exponentially. The old, monolithic way of "win-lose," "come and conquer," "bigger is better" is just dying with the dinosaurs; it's not quick in human time, but it is indeed in process. It is business that has brought us to this brink of near ecosystem destruction and, ironically, economic collapse, with all of the worst elements of human nature expressing themselves through the vehicle of business. In some cases, we have seen the expression of unbridled greed, selfishness, mindlessness, severe insensitivity to others, racism, sexism, ageism, arrogance, indifference, pride, self-importance, hostility, violence and hubris. In the world of business, venture capitalism, for instance, is often referred to as "vulture capitalism." We're now taking the "vulture" out of "venture."
Paradoxically, I believe it is through this very same vehicle of business and, after it, government, that the higher aspects of human nature will show themselves, and I'm suggesting that this is very much already in motion and has been, if somewhat embryonic, for decades, but truly gaining in momentum now.
The aspects of human nature that show up in those that are pioneering the new paradigm are cooperation, the spirit of collective collaboration and teamwork, thinking of others every bit as much as one thinks about oneself (if not more), and always considering the environmental impact and carbon footprint in every step of production, including the construction of the office, building or manufacturing facility itself. The guiding principle is "how to be in service to others and to the Earth in a humane way, sensitive to the environment, and profitably." You could call this the entrepreneur's way of "enlightened self-interest," wherein he enjoys several bottom lines at once, far better than just one, which is the normal way of doing business.
In her book "The Bond," journalist and award-winning author Lynne McTaggart describes the science behind our neurophysiological hardwiring around cooperating, belonging and bonding. This includes serving others and being nurturing, kind, compassionate and generous.
These ideas are not part of some kind of pie-in-the-sky fantasy about human nature; these are actual parts of the human nervous and glandular systems, to be used like arms and legs. Social visionaries mixing in business is exactly what we need and what the world is calling for. This is the direction of business, embracing, interestingly (and again, ironically enough), not the masculine principle but the feminine. Do people really need more severity and austerity, or a gentler, more benevolent touch? How you personally respond to the former or the latter can be your indication of what others also most prefer and respond favorably to. As we are all more similar than different, we can take our guide from such simple pieces of information!
Every wisdom tradition on the planet lays out not how to harm or cheat others but the contrary, how to love and be of service to others, so an increasingly large portion of people worldwide are pressing us toward this activation of wisdom, of our higher selves-in-action.
The new entrepreneur enjoys serving others, having a minimum carbon footprint and relatively neutral eco-impact, excellent feedback from clients and from the supply chain, as well as monetary profit.
Business is being done, all right, but more consciously for the good of all, not just for the few. It's a venue for service, not self-aggrandizement. These few, simple changes in the aperture make a world of difference, quite literally, in the impact, the outcome and, overall, the profitability of a company that is being environmentally and humanely attuned.
These companies, some older and some new, are enjoying the savings on energy due to the use of better-quality insulation in their walls; better-quality materials in their offices so that sick days are reduced and the label of "Sick Building Syndrome" is eliminated; the use of LED lighting instead of conventional lighting or even compact fluorescent lighting, which still contains mercury and strontium; and recycling all materials so that the common idea of waste, not to be found in nature, is no longer found in the human-based business operation. In short, when we base our business on nature, we enjoy the fruits and abundance of nature. The more we can emulate the ecosystem, the better off we'll be at turning "waste to gold."
Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen report in their book "Climate Capitalism" that companies such as Walmart, GE and DuPont are become leaders in understanding the business wisdom of energy efficiency. They report saving, collectively, billions of dollars in a few years that was being wasted when engaging in "business as usual." Now, Walmart requires a carbon footprint assessment by each of its suppliers if it wants to remain a supplier; this is how seriously Walmart and other companies are taking the subjects of energy efficiency, being eco-friendly and the hot subject of climate change. For them, they don't even enter the fray of the political discussion of "yes" or "no." They instead play the game of "if so, then how can I best adapt and make highest use of the possibility, even if it never ranks as a probability?" In short, it's just better business to live and carry on "as though."
If more people and businesses were to carry on this way, "as though" our actions mattered, "as though" they really do have consequences, "as though" we even had a soul where the consequences of our actions mattered more personally, we may have a very different kind of world, one that really expressed these higher aspects of human nature.
Many animals in nature travel and live in packs and groups. Humans are in the mammalian class and are social, literally by nature. It is our way of survival: we survive through cooperation and helping each other, bonding, belonging, nurturing and showing compassion, love, kindness and generosity. A very bizarre turn of mind happened in our culture, which construed these as the weaker part of our nature, when in fact they are, I will assert, the stronger. If we ran corporations and governments based on these virtues and principles (that is, an extension of the "healthy family" model), I suggest that the amount of waste, war and violence worldwide would be radically reduced, if not close to eliminated. Creating a culture of looking after each other creates an entirely different atmosphere, and if we were to replicate that in business, corporations would be paying fewer fines and less in lobbying, and they would be fighting unions less, because distribution of wealth would be much more evenhanded.
There have been systems in place for many years to help guide the entrepreneur to be visionary and profitable by being humane and eco-sensitive. The Natural Step and Zero-Waste are but two, and the amount of renewable resources and technologies in the pipeline, beyond petroleum (but truly this time), are growing steadily by the year.
Zero-waste is being embraced by villages, towns and cities across the world. For example, the city of Saint Paul, Minn. has set a goal of zero waste by 2020. The terms "eco-industry" and "green industry," until relatively recently considered oxymoronic by the old school of business dinosaurs, which are on their way out (or adapting), are now gaining in prominence.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. While many of us, as teenagers decades ago, saw the inherent, common-good business sense of managing business and home ecologically soundly, eliminating waste, composting and recycling everything and being energy efficient, renewable, sustainable and very user-friendly on every level, with the higher aspects of humans being emphasized rather than by default or prior poor-and-fear programming being emphasized, it has taken the crisis in which we currently find ourselves for these ideas to really take root. But in short, in this crisis, it does appear that we are truly "finding ourselves," and we're really moving business into a more humane, eco-friendly and spiritually awakened direction. This is not just a lot more profitable but also a lot more fulfilling and fun.
One sees that the win-win paradigm contributes on all levels to the evolution of human society and culture, and that the win-lose paradigm, which we are currently emerging out of, leads to destruction on all levels, despair and even desperation. This is why the one paradigm is dying, as have the dinosaurs, and their bones are helping build a much more enjoyable and, yes, paradoxically profitable paradigm.
Let's face it: this isn't rocket science. When everyone wins, it just plainly feels good. And when one is in harmony with others and the planet in this way, it pays dividends that could never have been imagined.
Follow Mitchell J. Rabin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/abetterworldweb