Rosabeth Moss Kanter Speaks about “ValueCorp”

SuperCorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
SuperCorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

By John Comberiate

As mentioned by Scott Shuffield this morning, during the Leadership for a Better World, Creating Social Value through Innovation Conference at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, DC, Rosabeth Moss Kanter spoke about the ideas behind her book, SocialCorp.  The book focuses on what is needed for large companies to remain competitive in a global and rapidly changing business environment.

Start with a Sense of Purpose as well as a Business Strategy

Anyone who has seen the 1999 classic Office Space knows what it is like to have a company mission statement.  Large companies need a concise focus in order to build a Business Strategy that will generate profits and be competitive.   Rosabeth spoke on how large companies need to take the next step, expanding on that idea to include a sense of purpose and value to guide what they believe and using it to create your business strategy.

Creating a new kind of Conversation with Employees

In order for large companies to adapt with the changing business environment, Rosabeth says they need to start a new type of conversation with their employees.  She quoted Sam Palmisano from IBM saying that “Business is the last Monarchy”.  At IBM, he took steps to break through this by setting up a program that invited their workforce to converse about what they liked about their mission, Innovation that matters, and what change they wanted see.  The employees overwhelmingly responded, and the culmination of their voice lead to the addition of ‘for our company and the world’ to their mission, showing how the employees connect to making a difference in the global environment.

Results: Better Partners and Customers

Rosabeth spoke on how leading with your core values changes the approach a business takes.  Taking the focus off of the bottom line allows for companies to choose the partners and customers needed to make a difference in the world.  By joining forces over a greater goal than just making a profit, a larger difference can be made even when working with radically different groups.

Create Change with a Higher Purpose

The larger companies become, the harder it can be to create change.  The past lays a framework for what has worked and can seem more appealing than taking the risks that led to the original growth.  Rosabeth says that having a greater purpose in your values and mission breaks through that fear of change and allows for new approaches and a new perspective.

Where do we stand?

Rosabeth talked about these large companies needing to lead change but, what does this really mean?  SuperCorps need to disconnect their values solely from profits and realize that their actions have a global impact now and in the future.  They have the resources and the influence to make a real difference and by including their employees in setting their values and then communicating them to their customers, they will end up more profitable in a better world.

John Comberiate is a first year MBA student in the Accelerated Part-Time track at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School.  Working as a blogger and as member of Toastmasters International, he is developing the skills needed to spread the word about Social Value creation occurring in the world and how people can get involved.

The posts on this page are contributed by students from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business in conjunction with the newly launched Center for Social Value Creation. The center's mission is to develop leaders with a deep sense of individual responsibility and the knowledge to use business as a vehicle for social change. These posts are a way to continue the dialogue outside of the classroom and share the viewpoints of Smith students on the challenges and opportunities of triple bottom line thinking.

One response

  1. I whole-heartedly agree that a value change is needed in todays SuperCorps. I’m not so optimistic on how it will happen. How will this affect shareholders? Do you think that shareholders will keep their money in companies that don’t return a profit?

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