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Social Entrepreneurs: Don’t Forget your Workers

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 20th, 2011 | 0 Comments

By Jeff Klein

One of the key insights that emerged out of writing Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, was a recognition that my principle orientation to work, business and life is generally process-based and process-focused, as compared with a product or outcome-focused orientation. In this context, the motto – The Process is the Product – emerged.

I have come to understand and believe that if we focus on the outcome or the product, without considering the process, we often create unintended consequences that contradict our intentions and undermine the outcome. By considering process, I refer to the way we do things and the impact of this on the stakeholders in our business, including employees, vendors, the communities where we work and the environment, to name a few.

An example of this is company founders who set out to make the world a better place by addressing critical environmental issues or health-related concerns. Despite an all-consuming drive to fulfill this vision of making the world better for people, the entrepreneurs exhibited an almost complete disregard for the people working with or for them. No regard for their working conditions. No consideration of their insights into building the business or for their learning, growth, development or empowerment. And people suffered in the process, as did productivity, creativity and other factors vital to the well-being of the business.

In fact, the all-consuming drive to fulfill a presumably noble vision or purpose is used to justify this behavior or blinds the entrepreneur from even seeing it.

While all of the businesses I have been involved with that functioned in this way succeeded (and continue to succeed) on many levels, the disregard for process and people had clear and profound implications for the business and for the entrepreneurs, including loss of control of their companies, undermined friendships and personal crises.

The Bottom Line

What we create through our businesses reflects the way we conduct ourselves in business. Actions have consequences.

Human beings are more productive and creative when they are engaged, and engagement flows from trust, respect and empowerment. And since the foundation of business is human beings, activating their productivity and creativity is essential.

By supporting the learning, growth, development and well-being of team members, we build healthy teams. And by facilitating the learning, growth, development and well-being of teams, we build healthy enterprises. As we foster the learning, growth, development and well-being of whole businesses, we build a healthy culture and thriving society.

The process is the product. And the process plays out on every level.

In the next post in this series I will explore the role of Learning, Growth and Development in business.

[Image Credit: redteam, Flickr]

Jeff Klein is CEO of Working for Good, a company that activates, produces and facilitates mission-based, Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns and Conscious Culture development programs.

Jeff is a founding trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and authored the award-winning book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, to support conscious entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, leaders and change agents at work. He will be offering a 6-week tele-course entitled It’s Just Good Business, beginning September 22, 2011.

For more information visit workingforgood.com


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