Saturday, September 07, 2013

unManifesto on Mattering

My bleeps know I am not big on manifestos.* But after a few days hanging out at the intersection** of meaning and money (aka #SOCAP13) and hearing quite a bit about impact investing and social entrepreneurship, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on building things that matter.

This is not a manifesto. I am not trying to enlist anyone. I am hoping to provoke people into thinking a bit more about this topic. To go deeper than the tweets and sound bites. To think about some design goals (or constraints) for (re)generative ventures.

So, if you want to build something that matters:

It isn’t just about developing and selling innovative goods and services.
It is about developing and selling goods that are good and services that serve.

It isn’t just about being a little greener by conserving a little energy, or recycling paper coffee cups at the office.
It is about radically redesigning your entire supply chain to dramatically reduce waste, or better yet, transform it into an asset. 

It isn’t just about creating jobs.
It is about creating meaningful work; with a fair, livable wage, and preferably, ownership for all co-workers over time.

It isn’t just about giving back to your community.
It is about being embedded in your community, and creating deep, lasting commitments to what makes it special.

It isn’t just about creating returns for investors.
It is about designing a business model that has impact, and if it requires investors, providing them with reasonable returns, subordinated to the company’s mission. Owners own the mission, and it owns them. 

If you've got a bit more time, I was on a panel that discussed some of these issues, and you can watch the video. This isn't easy stuff. It's hard work, and it's worth doing well. Good luck!
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* I might feel differently about womanifestos, but that is another post
** and geographically speaking, right next door to a race of $100 million dollar toys, which is, again, another post.

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