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  • Writer's pictureSeema Sutradhar

Creating an Ecosystem for Sustainable Future of Businesses

The ills of corruption, we all know. It kills any good deed, denies opportunities to deserving, hijacks rights of the weak and many more. Who is not aware of this? The dilemma is whether to give some money and get the job done or fight back. How much a common person can fight? The system is tough to fight with. One may choose to be honest and go on but that does not make others honest and change the system. To change the system it needs something else. Those who are honest are faced with challenges more and more. They are faced with dilemma take the shortcut or stay strong and let go many luxuries that the shortcuts would otherwise make them available. There are many other ways people make money through shortcuts and leave bad effects on the lives of others surrounding them. They are silo-ed thinkers, they are focused on self-gain, they do not contribute positively and think of building something beautiful for everyone to enjoy.

It is difficult to change individuals or preach honesty to someone who does not realise it. That maybe be something tried by spiritual leaders. But there is a midway solution. We can make businesses honest and purposeful. Businesses are key units of our ecosystem and most critical to our survival. We can make businesses clean and purposeful by influencing them, drawing their attention to organisational purpose beyond just making a profit. Helping them discover their purpose, as most organisations already have it, but are unaware.

"A purpose like that will work as the compass against which everyone in the organisation would verify their actions and stay aligned."

When businesses as units of our ecosystem become clean and purpose focused, people inside the organisation are more engaged and put their efforts towards the organisation’s purpose with much more synergy.

Would you agree that changing businesses to become clean and purposeful is more feasible? Probably yes, because there is a business case for it.

"By becoming more purposeful and clean, businesses turn to be more sustainable for the future."

They contribute positively and do not harm the bigger ecosystem they are part of. It is same as, if you fish out everything from the pond, leaving nothing that can grow over time then nothing will be left for the next cycle. You cannot squeeze out everything for your gain. If taxes are not paid then businesses are not contributing anything to take care of the pond. To let the businesses exist it is key for them to care for the outer world equally. The products and services need to serve people positively. Then their businesses will survive and they can make profits again and again over very long periods of time. If honest practices are followed then profit levels are not in spikes but are more rational and businesses thrive. Spikes attained by shortcuts are not sustainable, profits made that way are not sustainable either.

Is it the only business case for businesses to become honest & purposeful? There is more. A higher purpose engages people who run their businesses. People connect with it and see their aspirations towards it. They volunteer and contribute their efforts not for salaries only but for the impact they see they can ultimately make in the real world outside.

"Purpose opens hearts and minds. It creates a desire in people to be optimistic, raises their willingness to take risks and courage to follow their conviction and be creative. It ignites innovation. Purpose kills conflicts, turns resistance into co-operation, creates synergy for solving problems. It is very powerful."

But not all businesses are clean and purposeful. There are businesses that are designed for ill and they intentionally work in dishonest ways, deal with products and services that are not doing good to others. They have silo-ed business goals and self-centred attitudes. They pump dirty money into the system. They do harm to the system that is so interlinked. They are like the weeds on the farm. They are the diseased or decaying branches of a tree. They need to be cut and removed regularly to let the plant grow and stay healthy. At the same time the purposeful businesses should be supported for them to spread and tilt the ecosystem towards good.

So there are two ways to look at it. Either we influence each business or we may address it through a system. The systemic solution could be one where we enhance the financial system as businesses are so dependent on this system for their survival and growth. We make it pro good businesses and as unfavourable as we can to bad ones. We can thus address the problem, maybe in a more dynamic way. And thus we would be able to create an ecosystem that will nurture business to thrive grow and become sustainable for the future.

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