John Mackey is a capitalist. He founded Whole Foods and turned it into a massive operation, with over 350 stores. Along the way, he came to realize something about business: its purpose goes beyond profits. This idea is about building meaningful businesses.
As the founder of Conscious Capitalism Inc., and the author of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, John Mackey is a fierce proponent of a new and more meaningful way of doing business. Conscious Capitalism is “an idea, a movement, an approach to conducting business, and an organization dedicated to advancing all of these. Conscious Capitalism exists to elevate humanity. Conscious Capitalism comes to life as it is applied to businesses, non-profits, and organizations that practice Conscious Capitalism.”
There are four core principles that guide an organization that practices Conscious Capitalism: purpose, culture, leadership, and stakeholders. Here, we’ll explore the principle of purpose.
According to Ed Freedman, Darden School of Management Professor and Conscious Capitalism Inc. Trustee,
“We need red blood cells to live (the same way a business needs profits to live), but the purpose of life is more than to make red blood cells (the same way the purpose of a business is more than to simply generate profits).”
The organization claims that while making money is an essential part of the vitality and sustainability of the business, it’s not the only, or even the most important reason a business exists. As such, Conscious Businesses focus on their purpose beyond profit.
Here’s why: As the organization points out, “we all need meaning and purpose in our lives. It’s one of the things that separates us from other animals. Purpose activates and motivates us. It moves us to get up in the morning. It sustains us when times get tough. And serves as a north star when we stray off course.”
The Business Opportunity
Here’s the business opportunity: Conscious Businesses can take on a bigger role in the world by providing people with a sense of purpose and meaning. Such purposeful intent helps the business inspire, engage, and energize its stakeholders. The aim is to create a bond that employees, customers, and stakeholders trust, and even love.
Here’s how it works: “Purpose is more than words on the wall. It provides a compass and unifying force for a companies’ leaders, teams, and other stakeholders. And purpose provides a lifeblood that courses through an organizations culture.”1
We embrace this holistic view of how meaning can be created. This is going beyond a campaign or a project delegated to a department. The meaningful strategies we develop are not icing on the corporate cake, but rather a force that permeates every aspect of the enterprise. We bring consciousness to business by focusing on the interdependent roles of empathy, purpose, and emotion that come to life through a new mode of behavior for the organization.
For more see our recently published white paper: How Leading Companies are Winning Through Meaningful Brand Strategies.