We are living through a time of unprecedented change and great uncertainty that is shaking up the way we see the world, the way we relate to each other and the way we organise ourselves. We no longer know what to expect or who to trust, and this is exacerbating an already troubled situation of increasing social fragmentation, economic volatility and long-term ecological damage.
This requires a change in the way we look at our organisations. Firstly, if we view organisations as integral to their surroundings and stakeholders, then we take a completely different approach to decision-making and stakeholder engagement. Secondly, if we see trust as fundamental to understanding both what is happening and what needs to change, then we can re-establish the balance in the relationship between organisations and their multiple stakeholders.
An organisation and its multiple stakeholders cannot function without trust – it is the life-blood of any organisation and indeed any community. In order to re-new trust in organisations, we need to re-think organisational structures and processes. We need to understand the future of organising and what a trust-based model might look like.
There is hardly any bigger question today than the role of business in society. Arguably, big business has become the greatest power on the planet. If that power could be harnessed to serve society, the benefits to our quality of life would be huge.
The predominant business models today, the joint-stock company was conceived in the 19th century. It no longer meets the needs of the 21st Century’s fast-moving, complex and interconnected age. Trust, the glue that holds human activity together, is breaking down – particularly between big business and society.
There is increasing interest in and passion for new approaches which aim to use organisations as vehicles to create social and environmental wealth and have a multi-stakeholder nature. But this is a complex topic and most approaches to it tend to be piecemeal. We are taking the route of fundamental, systemic, organisational analysis, and as a result are able to design and hopefully nurture emergent new business models fit for the 21st Century.
Our approach fully embraces complexity; it works with structures and practices, is driven by how they affect behaviour whilst also embracing the impact of human motivations on organisational forms and behaviours.
Our approach also embraces and draws on other existing organisational models, including employee ownership, social enterprises and cooperatives. Thus, it is truly holistic.