A home for the Conscious Business community in the UK

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Climate Change – a Conscious Start

Climate Change Questions
Climate change matters?
Does it effect me? Let’s see.
Ask the right questions.

Conscious business is a very powerful way of working. Any management course will show the benefits of working as a team over working as an individual. How much more powerful is this collaboration in the smart interconnected world we live in today?

Taking a conscious business perspective, it is relatively simple to consider the role of stakeholders on your business or the impact that your business can have on others. But how can we encourage more businesses to take this systemic approach?

There are many businesses operating in a more traditional manner, who find working in a linear way obvious and easy. Acknowledging the merits of working more consciously requires a shift in mind-set.

One way to bridge the gap is to focus on a single issue and explore the impacts on your business and stakeholders. Consider climate change as an issue with potential impacts on almost all aspects of business.

There are two critical observations:

  • Climate change may have risks or opportunities on your business, your suppliers or customers, now or in the future – or maybe not.
  • By asking these questions you have started the process of examining the interconnectedness of the stakeholders; becoming more conscious.

Even if the answers show that climate change has a minimal impact the exercise is very likely to find efficiencies, savings, reduce risks and maybe to find some new opportunities. And will certainly be a step towards a more conscious business approach.

Some may see this focus on the single issue of climate change as a retrograde step, away from the systemic approach of conscious business – the single issue tail wagging the dog. Some tail. Some dog!


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.

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Conscious Walking

A beautiful day.  Thick snow on the ground with a sunny blue sky.  I dress warmly as the annoying quote “there’s no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing” springs to mind.  I step out into the cold, aware and excited by child-like feelings and the novelty of my new surroundings.  One foot in front of the other, knowing where I’m going.  I sense a feeling of joy as I look around at the blanket of snow making the familiar seem new again.

But as I climb the icy path my focus shifts to the steps in front of me.  Breathless, like working in a recession, I am no longer aware of my surroundings or direction.  I have no capacity or will to lift my head – even to see a clearer way just beside me.

It’s not until I reach the top that I can pause to catch my breath and breathe a sigh of relief.  And in this stable place I can now stride forward looking up and down and around – reflecting on surviving the recent challenge and basking in the the success of where I’ve been, the path I’m taking and on where I’m going.

But, another ‘but’, as I start the descent.  It may have been a struggle on the way up but now it’s one careful step at a time with self preservation front of mind.  And no time to look around at the stunning views.  What a waste.  If I can’t look around whilst I’m going down at least I can stop on what was a grassy mound.  A thought: ice skaters don’t move forward step by step, they embrace the flow so why can’t I? And on this last stage I move faster, still gently and still in control, safely – being part of the way forward.

As I reach the foothills I hear the high pitched tweet of a bird enjoying the day.  “Sounds like a blackbird to me.  I will Google ‘birdsongs’ when I get home to check.”  “Or not.” I thought as I stopped at the hawthorn tree, causing the bird to silence.  I could see no source of the sound until as I waited the call started again.  And with my stillness, I saw a beautiful little bird with yellow and black markings.  Beautiful and serene – what a treat.

But what has this got to do with conscious walking or even conscious business ?  Everything I thought.