Three Wealth Building Ideas for the New Economy – Direct from Davos

It is almost as if we were joined at the hip.

During the June 2009, World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows keynote address, corporate governance expert Robert A.G. Monks shared some contemporary perspectives on the tightening links between government, human welfare, and the private sector.

If you are in the process of planning your company’s next move, his speech is a must read.

Who knew that Robert and I share the same views on building a wealthy company?  That is, a company that is highly valued because it is driven by strong values?

According to the WEF’s website, “WEF’s Global Leadership Programme is dedicated to developing the next generation of world leaders; well-rounded professionals who feel equally at home in the public and private sectors. As the world becomes increasingly more interconnected, the once well-defined line between these two sectors continues to blur, making it difficult for any one organization to act effectively in isolation.”  Well said.  And very timely for growth companies who want to reach the next level of success.

Here is what Monks shared with the graduates:

“From this point forward, we can and should expand focus our efforts on government. In virtually every agency and cabinet position, there now are responsible officials who share our concerns for holistic capitalism. The new challenge is to introduce legitimate standards and enforcement by the government without destroying the innovating genius of a free market system. 

Specifically, we should take advantage of this rapid change to focus our energies on international accounting systems. This is where the leverage is – we can, with collective effort, hope to begin the process of expanding traditional accounting so as to place values and costs on normative conduct. Institutions – in contrast to individuals – need to have a quantified language of accountability – we have all heard “You can manage what you can measure.” It still amazes me that so little energy has been devoted to improving an accounting language, derided by all for its miscorrelation with human wealth or welfare. We need at the least to have a business system that reflects the external costs of its functioning on society; we should have a system that places reward on human creativity.

Only when this task is substantially completed can we feel that corporate functioning – the pursuit of wealth – is compatible with human welfare.”

Ponder that last sentence for a moment.  Does your company link the preservation of human welfare and accountability as fervently as the pursuit of wealth?  And if you did, what kind of legacy would you leave behind?

Here are 3 guidelines to help you create a tighter connection between wealth and human welfare:

1. Engage stakeholders from multiple disciplines in your planning and strategic marketing efforts. That may mean your banker.  It also might mean a key executive from a non-profit, or a local foundation that is offering grant money for businesses like yours.
2. Tap into the new government programs available for your business. One of my technology consulting clients is pursuing a $10M joint venture to help mid-sized healthcare facilities address the onerous Electronic Medical Records initiatives, much of which is being funded through Uncle Sam.
3. Create tighter links between corporate wealth and human welfare.  Instead of investing in an executive compensation analysis, consider hosting programs that celebrate successes; e.g. company sports teams, outdoor events, and informal client recognition events.  When I worked for OnTarget (which was eventually acquired by Siebel Systems), founder Alston Gardner was a master of this.  He organized professional development programs at Emory University. All of his consultants and support teams attended. He also organized some of the finest client conferences I have ever attended, attracting leaders such as organization development expert Daryl Conner and top-notch strategist and Harvard Professor Adrian Slywotzky. Priceless education.

In my newest book, I provide seven principles that successful growth companies embrace. These principles, combined with Robert’s insights, just might be what you need now to design a great company.

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