What is Conscious Business?
As far as I know the adjective “conscious” was first applied to business in a stand-alone fashion by Ken Kofman in 2006 who authored a Conscious Business with two forewords, no less, one written by Peter Senge and Ken Wilbur.
In 2007, Patricia Aburdene business partner and colleague of John Naisbitt, authored a sequel to the best seller Megatrends and called it Megatrends 2010 with the additional tagline: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism. Neither the book nor the application of the adjective “conscious” to capitalism attracted the attention it deserved then as most people’s minds had become pre-occupied with surviving the biggest recession since the “Dirty Thirties.”
Nearly a decade later, however, Aburdene’s prescience was confirmed: the terms Conscious Capitalism and Conscious Business, while not on everybody’s lips, had attracted the sympathetic attention of many thought leaders, and spawned a number of initiatives around the world including:
ConsciousCapitalism.org (originating in the US but now spawning chapters in other countries such as the UK, and Australia); and
The Conscious Business Initiative currently offering an online course and membership in a Community of Practice
While both of these organisations have issued belief statements (see the Conscious Capitalism Credo and the Conscious Business Initiative’s Declaration here), Conscious Business defies a tight definition and takes many forms as it is an emerging response to dissatisfaction /disillusion with “business as usual.”
Conscious Business is most certainly NOT another fad or technique. It represents an evolutionary leap in the purpose of business and the way it is conducted
Charles Darwin famously observed that evolution is based on survival of the fittest – not the strongest or most powerful – but the most adaptable to a changing environment. Conscious Business is an adaptive response to living in a VUCA world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Its practitioners are intent upon becoming fit enough to thrive in a very different future.
The core values and concepts associated with Conscious Business form the basis for virtually all innovative experiments, innovations and creative reflections taking place in business today.
Regardless of the focus of each emerging form, it is true to say they all are based on a shared belief that:
- While businesses are the biggest source of some of our world’s most challenging problems, they also offer the greatest hope and potential to help solve these problems.
- Addressing the challenges we’re facing offers amazing opportunities for breakthroughs and qualitative development (in terms of skills, wisdom and performance) that will create prosperity and flourishing for all.
- The breakthroughs will only occur at an enterprise and community level IF the individuals leading the change (be they CEOs or grassroots activists) have developed their own personal awareness and skills to consciously evolve their organizations.
- Conscious Business like charity starts at home – the hearts and minds of individuals leading change.