“Greed is good”. Some of you might remember the phrase immortalized by Michael Douglas who played Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street. Well, the world has more than lived up to these words by pursuing the principle that excessive greed is even better. In a critical analysis of the principles driving modern business, Series 1 of the Purpose Inspired podcast by Wayne Visser demonstrates that the predatory behavior of the lion is symbolic of the way most companies are run today. But the world cannot go on like this. The podcast, which is based on the book “Beyond Reasonable Greed” by Wayne Visser and Clem Sunter, argues strongly for an alternative and more positive vision involving sustainable business in both a social and an environmental sense. In order to achieve this, companies will need to change – to shapeshift – from the tooth-and-claw logic of lions to the more caring, holistic philosophy of the elephant.
But what does this mean in practice? The podcast unpacks what is really meant by sustainability and sets out seven steps to create sustainable commerce, including a renewed focus on values, vision, work, governance, relationships, communication and services. We also look at what is required for sustainable economics, through new perspectives on measures, externalities, markets, investments, money, banking and trade. And then we look to the future, exploring two scenarios for the medium to long term: Oases in the Desert, where the corporate lions continue to rule, but their kingdoms are increasingly restricted by their own destructive behavior and popular discontent; and Plains of the Serengeti, where companies shapeshift into elephants which strive for a proper balance between cooperation and competition and a continuing diversity of species, large and small, strong and weak.
The podcast concludes that multi-level shapeshifting is required for sustainability. Apart from corporate transformation, it is up to governments on the one hand and each and every one of us as individuals on the other to adopt the persona of an elephant in order to pass on a worthwhile heritage to our children. Join us on the journey, as we transform business fangs and claws into tusks and trunks.