” I would like to propose that the corporate world of business is undergoing a major transition, a kind of “moral transformation,” that is beginning to reshape Capitalism. And while this transition may have started years ago (again, I’d like to give credit to the catalytic influence of Marilyn Ferguson), the current climate of creative destruction in the global economy is likely to accelerate the pace of change that is now desperately needed. We may even soon see the presumed bedrock of Capitalism, “greed,” slowly fade into the past. Now that’s change we want to believe in!
However, is such a rosy outlook really justified, you ask? You bet! As I have underscored many times before, on this site and elsewhere, there is another “megatrend” of the 21st Century, a proposition that is reinforced by Aburdene’s observations, that must be taken into account: the search for meaning. This human quest is not only pervasive (and transformative) in more and more people’s everyday lives, but also is coming into play with greater frequency and influence in their work lives. In my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, I make the argument that the transformation of work in the 21st Century is, in many respects, a call for humanity–a new consciousness that strengthens trust in the unconditional meaningfulness of life and the dignity of the person. Moreover, by applying this meaning-focused philosophy to the workplace, we can more deeply humanize our working lives and bring deeper meaning to work itself.
The same philosophy, I submit, can be applied on a “macro” level to organizations in the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors. From the perspective of a true optimist, it can even be used to transform Capitalism along the lines advanced by Ferguson, Aburdene, and other members of the vanguard for positive, meaningful change! By integrating and applying the truly “best practices” of companies and businesses that have demonstrated how both doing good and making a profit can be accomplished, a “New Age” of Capitalism, whatever it may be called, is possible. Come on folks, as Walt Disney used to say, “If you can dream it, you can do it!” And if there ever was a time not to give up on “dreams,” this is it!
To avoid misrepresenting or having to choose among any of the “new” forms or kinds of Capitalism that are seriously being discussed to accomplish the transformation agenda suggested here (and, naturally, because I have been affectionately nicknamed, “Dr. Meaning”), I propose that we call this new direction, Meaningful Capitalism. Under this scenario, the primary focus of the broadly-defined community of stakeholders in the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors is on the will to meaning rather than the “will to power” and its more primitive form, the “will to money” (Please see my previous post on this topic: “Living with Meaning: Realize Your Will to Meaning”). Moreover, I’m going to propose that, at a time when the call for innovation can be heard loud and clear, organizations in all sectors must commit authentically to meaningful values and goals in order to make a positive difference and create a better world. Innovation for innovation’s sake will not achieve these goals. A new consciousness, “Innovating with Meaning,” will be required not only to meet the pressing human needs of our time but also to build a solid platform, framed by “Meaningful Capitalism,” for the future.
Alright, you probably think that I’m nothing but a “dreamer,” if not totally out of my mind! Get real, you say? “Capitalism, in any form, is evil at best.” “There is no such thing as a soul of a business.” “Corporations, by definition, have no conscience.” I hear you, but I’m still not convinced.”