Chapter 3: People, An Introduction

Hello and thank you for so many valuable contributions – everything from comments on the blog to links tweeted. Very grateful!

I have some work to finish off one small sub-set of the last remaining Democracy extract, so I’m hopping here to Chapter 3 which on People – a critical area…

This extract is the Intro, and will be followed by quite a lot of detail and practical steps in the following extracts.

Please keep the support, sharing and feedback coming 🙂



In theory people should be the great beneficiaries of business. After all, we’re people – we work in businesses, we own businesses, we created businesses and, for the most part, accept and depend on businesses.

So shouldn’t then people love business, and thrive in and because of business?

Instead business seems to be the enemy of people. It, this horrible machine we created, spits people out embittered, exhausted, demoralised on a daily basis and over years and careers.

We have all allowed for people and humanity and authenticity and real lives to be different to professionalism and work and business. We have allowed these two halves of the same sphere to be kept apart rather than held together.

Given this backdrop, we all know innately and absolutely that business must radically change how it treats people. We have all seen people around us be dreadfully mistreated by businesses and business people. We have all seen documentaries or read articles about the exploitation that happens to poorer people around the world at the hands of business to satisfy our own consumer needs and wants.

This. Must. Stop. It really doesn’t need to be this way.

Being bad to the people is being bad to the bottom line

Aside from the moral imperative to treat people better in business there are profound and proven business benefits going untapped. It is well understood by the Human Resources community that engagement translates into profit. It is well understood by managers that a great, motivated team member is worth five poor, switched-off team members. Yet we seem to do everything we can in conventional business to destroy engagement and to run roughshod over the simple opportunities to create

What a terrible shame! And yet what a huge opportunity. For people are the lifeblood of any business, and in the 21st century we are already seeing the pioneering social businesses celebrating and unlocking the abilities of their people and the people around them in ways that create powerful value.

What does the progressive business movement do differently?

The revolutionaries in this progressive 21st century business movement understand this opportunity instinctively and have subverted the ridiculous and staid logic of the last century to create powerful new ways of unleashing and empowering their workforces to create huge value.

Fundamentally, what the smartest organisations do is design themselves to create an environment where people can thrive and achieve more and feel stronger than they ever believed they could about their working lives.

These organisations place the highest premium on people. Not at a lip-service level, but at a deeply ingrained cultural level.

The newly created value that flows from this approach can be measured financially: better engagement of people translates into profits, sales, lower cost of returns, greater customer lifetime value and so on. But 21st century social business also create value for their people way beyond money alone. As the economist Simon Kuznets who originally developed the measurement of Gross National Product said back in 1934: “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.” We can extend that and suggest that ‘the welfare of an organisation can scarcely be inferred from financial measures alone’. More of that later.

What’s the prize?

By making challenging but hugely rewarding changes, the following benefits are available to the 21st century social business:

•    Better, faster results through higher workforce engagement
•    Competitive advantage by nurturing innovation and creativity
•    Sustaining competitive advantage by attracting and retaining the very best talent in the hyper-competitive global marketplace
•    A lighter soul and greater wellbeing for all (from the bottom to the top of an organisation) from the knowledge that the business is doing the right thing by its people

Feedback in comments here on the blog, twitter @willmcinnes / #cltrshck or email to


2 thoughts on “Chapter 3: People, An Introduction

  1. Hey, it’s not just business that spits out exhausted, embittered individuals. So does the public sector.

    Still got a problem with the polemic. ‘We do everything we can in conventional business to destroy engagement’? That’s not right. The big, bad tescopoly does a really good job of engaging their low-paid employees performing mechanical tasks. Not sure I would put them in the progressive business movement.

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