By: Scott Shuffield
“Service to society, guided by well-articulated values, is not just ‘nice to do’ but an integral part of the business models for companies.” – from SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Years ago, Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, told the board of directors that he wanted to invite all 400,000 IBM employees to a WebChat allowing them to discuss IBM’s values and take account of the employees’ opinions. A prominent member of the board stood up and asked, “Isn’t this socialism?” Some people might expect that reaction and even argue that such a venture isn’t acceptable, not Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
As Kanter argued during a forum held by Center for Social Value Creation (a part of the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland), a sense of purpose beyond monetary compensation motivates people and will even increase a company’s profit. When IBM’s Palmisano asked employees to contribute to the direction of the company, it allowed them to put a stake in the business and allowed their emotions to get involved. Kanter suggested that the culture Palmisano created at IBM helped it fare better than most during the recent global financial meltdown.
But just asking employees for their input won’t suffice to inspire innovation. After asking for their input, IBM made sure to actually do the good things their employees recommended. For example, when a new plan for using idle computer power to create a supercomputer came from IBM’s research and development, the first thing IBM did was make it public (a.k.a. free!). Creating WorldCommunityGrid.org, IBM invested in a program that allows people like researchers to access a supercomputer to do advanced calculations that would take years on a single computer. It’s a really cool concept and I encourage you to check out the site.
By Deepa Janakiraman
Two hundred and fifty students, industry experts, entrepreneurs, professors and social value creators came together at Ronald Reagan Building in Washington today for the grand launch of Center for Social Value Creation (csvc) at Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Dean Anand introduced the center with a comment that “In the business school we have a responsibility to create responsible leaders”. Although he commented the school is a little behind in starting the center, he promptly recognized that the students and faculty are already creating social value by many means -Especially via involvement with Net Impact, Smith School Energy Club, CIBER, Green, sustainable and social corporate responsibility clubs and more.
Today’s forum on leadership for a better world will be covered by three current University of Maryland students here on 3p, check back for updates throughout the day.
Deepa Janakiraman is a MBA student at Robert H. Smith School and works at Booz Allen Hamilton as an associate. An avid traveler and photographer and writes travel blogs at www.deeparaman.com