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Posted 10.20.14

Weatherhead School of Management hosted Flourish & Prosper: Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit Wednesday, Oct. 15 through Friday, Oct. 17. Business leaders from around the world explored renewed purpose and radical “net positive” strategies to create greater value for business and society. 

“Flourishing” is the aspiration that humans and other life will thrive on the earth forever. Through the cultivation of a more fully human organization—places where people can bring their whole selves, their values and higher purposes, to the workplace—an environment for creativity, ingenuity and greater sustainability is formed. Caring for employee and customer inner development is a pathway to above-average market returns, as recent studies have shown.

During one of the CEO panels, Gerwin Shuring, founder of Schuberg Philis, emphasized the importance of relationship with colleagues.

“If you want to work with a team effectively, you have to befriend them,” Schuring said, explaining how his company of engineers adopted the following core operating principles: love, customers, our promise, leadership, alignment of strengths, whole world opportunities, out of your comfort zone, chemistry of relationships, exponential technologies, vulnerability, game changing collaboration, and fearless learning. After implementing these principles, customer satisfaction scores improved dramatically.

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, Vice Chair of GOJO Industries, discussed how her company adopted a social sustainability goal to bring wellbeing to one billion people every day. Their enterprise BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, gives all employees permission to stretch the horizon, thus unleashing passion, enterprising ideas, and creativity.

GOJO and Schuberg Philis are not alone in the flourishing movement. B Corporation—a non-profit organization that certifies companies as “B Corp” once they’ve met rigorous standards of social and economic performance, accountability, and transparency—has registered more than 1,000 companies from 33 countries and over 60 industries for B Corp status.

“These companies are not just the best of the world but the best FOR the world,” said Bart Houlahan, co-founder of B Corporation.

The B-Corp Certification recognizes those companies that are trying to use business as a force for good. They embed purpose and meaning into the DNA of the business. Houlahan shared that these companies “are doing exceptionally well—B Corps were 60% more likely to survive over the financial crisis.” They are more resilient not in spite of but because of their commitment to their communities and their workers.

Throughout the forum, over 650 attendees contributed to a new business orientation aimed at helping organizations inspire and engage people in innovative ways. Healthy work spaces and mindful management practices were brainstormed to enable customers and employees to be more authentic, creative, and collaborative. Action plans were developed to assist companies to sustain industry leadership while realizing remarkable relationship value with diverse stakeholders including local communities, governments, nonprofits, and suppliers. 

The collective effort over two-and-a-half days led to breakthrough innovation ideas in eight mini-design summit areas. These ranged from agriculture and energy to metrics, the circular economy, cities, consciousness of connectedness and pioneering work on a U.S. Grand Strategy along with a new prizing project to showcase Business as an Agent of World Benefit.

The result? Incredible energy and newfound enthusiasm for a business-led effort to create a world in which companies prosper, people excel, and nature thrives.

Participants in the Global Forum shared snippets and quotes about their experiences on Twitter throughout the panel sessions. Catch up on the energy and buzz by reading the Twitter feed at #BAWBforum, and follow @Fowler_Center and @caseweatherhead for the latest news, innovative business concepts, and information about upcoming events at WSOM.

 

More information about Flourish & Prosper is available through the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.

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