It’s becoming increasingly obvious that our present route towards economic growth is unsuitable for humankind and incompatible with the natural resources at our disposal. The sneaking feeling that “something’s not quite right” is gradually spreading through society in general and businesses in particular, even if it’s hardly ever possible to pin down the exact reason or cause.
The basic problem is often the prevailing tendency to conceptualize the economy. One almost has the impression that we have spent decades developing a common, fixed definition of the economy which we are now forced to accept as final and immutable. All too often, the proposed solutions involve measures modelled on the old concepts, and this only accelerates and aggravates the downward spiral.
That said, it is definitely not a matter of challenging or questioning the fundamental principles of economics. No better way of creating and regulating mutually beneficial business relationships than supply and demand has yet been devised. Nevertheless, entrepreneurial responsibility demands that industry recognizes the signs of the times and acts accordingly today to prepare companies for the world of tomorrow.
In future, the companies who survive will be those who have recognized that economic activities cannot be reduced to one-dimensional management of economic indicators, and that enterprises can no longer be run by growth targets (profit and volume) alone. The days of pure profit maximization are over, as this objective disregards a basic and enduring anthropological truth: the economy is created by people. Employees and customers will more and more want to see the wider picture, to seek the broader context; they will demand to be treated as people – not merely as human capital or consumers – and expect companies to assume their share of responsibility for meeting the challenges of our age and proposing possible solutions.
Even if these fundamental transformation processes cannot be accomplished overnight, every step in the right direction is a positive step. And there is definitely no time like the present for setting off on our journey, a journey which begins with entrepreneurs and senior managers asking the following question: “What contribution can my company make to support the necessary change towards a human-driven economy?”