A home for the Conscious Business community in the UK

Conscious Business – Differences – and Ants


At the recent inspiring and thought provoking meeting I had a surprising conversation about Conscious Business.

He said:  “The name Conscious Business attracted me here to be with others who know what Conscious Business means.”

I said: “Interesting.  I’m here because I don’t think we know what it means.”

He said:  “Actually, I think you are right!”

I said: “I disagree, I think you are right!”

As the conversations about this continue holding this ‘both/and’ paradox about Conscious Business seems a necessary hypothesis.

Let’s jump to a piece on the BBC’s Today programme about Ants and Edward Wilson, a sociobiologist.

Wilson’s research concludes that ants’ behaviour showing altruism and consideration for the wider ant community is embedded in their genes even more than the importance of necessity and kinship.  Their behaviour is more than utilitarian.  (Looks like a rich area to investigate; and it should give us hope for the future.)

Now, if we apply this to a family: is a family a family or a collection of siblings and parents?  Is the family competitive or collaborative?  Families clearly show both.

(Let’s not go further to the fundamentals of left and right wing politics – in essence: is a society a society, or a collection of individuals?)

So, the purpose of this post is to address the tricky question: ‘What is it that is holding businesses back?’

Traditionally businesses have been for the benefit of shareholders – the profit motive.  This extends to the (pure) marketing idea of the importance of the customer to other models of partnerships and social business.  The majority of these structures shift the pendulum from one stakeholder being the priority to another.

At the meeting the need to consider a more collaborative approach was mentioned – for the benefit of both individual stakeholders and the benefit of the entire stakeholder network.  The win–win can then be applied to all.  (Rather than win-win in the traditional business sense).

And this starts the paradigm shift: by holding the paradox of both/and rather than either/or we move to a new way of looking at business.

Author: phhc

I'm working with businesses towards a low carbon future. Working to bring values into business. Perhaps it's as simple as changing two letters in 'shareholders' into 'stakeholders'. In particular I'm working with businesses as they progress from a compliance view of change; through change leading to operating efficiences and cost savings; ending up with a fundamentally different view of the world that takes advantage of new opportunities that emerge - and give hope for a sustainable future for us all.

3 thoughts on “Conscious Business – Differences – and Ants

  1. Your thought provoking conversation has led to a thought provoking blog – thank you!

  2. Your thought provoking conversation has led to a thought provoking post – thank you!

  3. I totally agree. Ralph Stacey, my second doctoral supervisor, said this of paradox:
    ‘Paradox [is] a state in which two diametrically opposing forces/ideas are simultaneously present, neither of which can ever be resolved or eliminated. There is, therefore, no possibility of a choice between the opposing poles or of locating them in different spheres. Instead, what is required is a different kind of logic, such as the dialectical logic of Hegel. In this kind of logic, the word paradox means presence together at the same time of contradictory, essentially conflicting ideas, none of which can be eliminated or resolved.’

    I think this way of thinking is really powerful. It allows us to legitimately think that success is not the reduction of everything to a linear and single action; such as the complete focus on shareholder value. In fact, this attitude destroys healthiness of an organisation and wider society. As an example you only have to look how great organisations, with a sound tradition in their community, have been reduced to a ‘brand’ with manufacturing and the ’work’ being shoved around the world to the cheapest source of labour; to me this is not sustainable.


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