Why Focus on More than Making Money in Business?

By Jeff Klein

The short answer: It’s just good business!

Over the course of the next several months through blog posts, various presentations and a 6-week telecourse entitled It’s Just Good Business, I will elaborate on the short answer and, ideally, build a convincing case for the power of Conscious Capitalism and the practice of Working for Good – doing good business by focusing on more than making money.

Here I will begin to define key themes and outline the context for this exploration.


The first step – to define business. Business is a form of human social organization: people getting together for a purpose; to do something together; to deliver value to themselves and others. Business is an outlet for creative expression, a structure and process for turning ideas into products and services; and a vehicle for creating wealth – financial, material, intellectual, technological, social, even spiritual wealth – for individuals and society.

In the most simple sense, “good business” = making money by delivering products and services that people want, that create value for others.

Evolving Context: The Age of Interdependence

The catch is, creating value for others is becoming more complex. Functionality and reliability were once sufficient to satisfy customers. A paycheck and benefits were once sufficient to satisfy employees. Creating jobs and paying taxes were once sufficient for satisfying communities. Generating high ROI was once sufficient for investors.

As our technologies, our social-economic systems, our scientific understandings, and our daily lives become more complex, so too do our perspectives, our wants and needs, as individuals, communities and societies.

The idea of interdependence is becoming broadly and deeply recognized as an essential principle of nature and life, and we feel its effects in our daily lives. A financial crisis in one part of the world or one sector of the economy creates ripples throughout the global economy. Natural disasters release toxic wastes that threaten ecosystems and communities in distant lands. Social unrest in one country or continent spills into neighboring countries and distant continents. Technological advances in a laboratory or garage anywhere transform the way billions of people live their lives.

This recognition of interdependence and its effects evokes strong responses from individuals and communities (both geographical communities and communities of shared perspective and interest). Key stakeholders in the ecosystem of business – customer/citizens and employees in particular – increasingly demand that business (in general and the specific businesses with which they engage) recognize this interdependence, consider the effects of their products, services and processes on people and the environment, both now and in the future.

86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests. Social purpose continues to rank as the number one deciding factor for global consumers above design, innovation and brand loyalty.

64% believe it is no longer enough for corporations to give money; they must integrate good causes into their everyday business.
~ 2010 Edelman goodpurpose© Study

84% of Americans believe their ideas can help companies create products and services that are a win for consumers, business and society; yet, only half (53%) feel companies are effectively encouraging them to speak up on corporate social and environmental practices and products.~ 2010 Cone Shared Responsibility Study

Stakeholders increasingly expect that companies have an explicit purpose, with a social dimension, that drives their business. They expect companies to create value, beyond the goods and services they deliver and to consider and address their impact of their business on the environment.

The Bottom Line

In the emerging Conscious Capitalism economy, making money requires more that focusing on making money.

In the next post in this series, I will explore the “Conscious” and “Capitalism” in Conscious Capitalism and outline the principles of Conscious Capitalism.

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

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4 responses

  1. Your quote: “Stakeholders increasingly expect that companies have an explicit purpose, with a social dimension, that drives their business” – is that anecdotal or based on some research?

    I suspect that there will be duality of purpose – as well as the above for altruistic reasons, stakeholders are also increasing recognising that there is competitive advantage in a good social responsibility strategy – in long term planning for supply chain management, in a reduce, reuse and recycle approach and more generally in positive consumer perception of the company as a whole.

  2. I was wondering if you think the needs of the employees, which you say here used to be a paycheck and some benefits, are now turning back to just a paycheck and some benefits, due to the poor economy here in the US?

    Do you know if there is a correlation between those who wish the company they work for be more socially responsible and the amount of charity that the employees perform on their own?



    1. Hello Graham,

      In some company and with some companies (probably many, in both cases) the focus is more on survival and the basic give and get, but many companies simply function differently and recognize that the health of their business depends on the health of their people (health broadly defined). If leaders think in systems they recognize the relationship between inspired, engaged employees and creativity, productivity, customer service etc. And the relationship between these and the bottom line.

      I do not know the correlation between these two, and will do some research to see if there is any good data available. Thank you for pointing to this.



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