People with good hearts often do the most harm. I witnessed this firsthand about 20 years ago, when – after I’d already been helping to build responsible businesses, large and small, for some 20 years – I saw the creation of a special business focus called sustainability. Then came corporate citizenship and other labels.
The organizations I had worked to develop had never separated out – and, as a result, fragmented – the work of doing business responsibly. Responsibility was part of how they did everything, not a sideline. I think separating responsibility from business operations, while well-intended, ultimately caused setbacks.
But I finally see that well intended sidetrack reversing: 2015 is looking bright for responsible entrepreneurship. Three big shifts in particular that should give us hope:
1. Less counting, more caring
Until recently, most reporting, consulting and corporate programs have used metrics to leverage responsibility. Managers figure out a way to count everything, believing a metric is the golden ticket to getting things done. The misguided notion of “what you measure is what you get” has been the mantra for decades. I don’t think it’s true. My mantra is: “What you get is what you care about.”
Google, for instance, is making headway in changing our relationship with food. Instead of focusing on metrics, it’s finding ways to make people care about the impact of their food choices on farming, health and climate.