A new set of behaviors is forcing a rethink of old, ossified ideas about cold-blooded capitalism. We are seeing the emergence of a structure best described as The Impact Economy. This is not some bubble-driven phenomenon, but a recalibration of supply and demand based on a more accurate system of measures that internalizes externalities and prioritizes impact. It imagines a new equilibrium predicated on a social contract influenced as much by Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments rather than only The Wealth of Nations. It conceives of a values-led, mission-driven marketplace wherein true gains are those outcomes that achieve market-rate financial returns without entirely trading off on social good. ~Jonathan Greenblatt
I am a firm believer in the free market. I mean seriously, how can you watch the video above and not be in awe of its power to connect people. But today the free market, especially in light of the financial collapse that occurred in 2008, gets a bad rap.
What I would like to say to those people who bash the free market is … as people evolve, so too will our economic system. Systems are in essence mirrors for our society. When you look into them deeply what you see staring back at you is a reflection of our current societal values. People are the common denominator in all of our systems. We are all connected.
Therefore, our economic system evolves as people’s values evolve.
Herein lies its brilliance.
Our amazing economic growth was fuelled by an individualistic, selfish pursuit of wealth as well as a consumption mentality. We sacrificed our communities in order to create jobs faster. But now, in developed countries, the majority of us have jobs so you can see a tip towards balancing the individual with community already taking place. The responsible business, community economic development and social entrepreneurship efforts happening around the world are nothing short of amazing.
Yes, for those companies ingrained in their original profit-maximization driven pursuits they are finding it difficult to right the ship midstream, but they are trying. (Perhaps wasting a bit too much money on marketing campaigns to let us know how hard they are trying, but at least they are trying) The market is demanding it. This is the power we hold as consumers.
Where we really see momentum being created for this balancing is with the true engine of the free market; the entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs within the mainstream economic system and within the charitable/social sector are affecting change from the inside out using a Blended Value approach commonly referred to as the triple-bottom-line. This approach is the future of business because it doesn’t just create jobs, it has the power to create wealth, health, happiness and meaningful work for ALL people.
I understand that change is a painful process, but it is a necessary one. The free market may be relatively fast at job creation, but it is decidedly slower at listening and adapting to the demands of the market (society). This is the source of the pain within the process. But pain and struggle are the necessary stimulants for growth, not only within the context of the economy, but also within the context of being human.
The more experience I gain, the more I come to understand that everyone is doing the best that they can. The free market may have made society look a mess on the surface, but deep down we are doing OK and we are on the right track.
The pain and struggle we endure while working to succeed within the free market isn’t caused by the free market itself, it is a function of the point in history we were born into (our family’s and the world’s). It is a function of being human.
Yes, we sacrificed our communities to create jobs faster. The pendulum swung far towards the individual and the majority of us now have financial security. Our next step now is to recognize that as consumers, employees, investors, parents, entrepreneurs, volunteers, politicians, board members etc. the time has come to take the risks associated with making bold choices to restore balance in our systems so we ALL can have financial, mental, emotional and spiritual security.
As people we value both money AND community and its time for our systems to reflect this. If we are in fact the 99%, we can evolve our systems by uniting, identifying our individual passions and strengths and channelling them into developing and executing a pragmatic plan that moves us towards our shared vision of prosperity for ALL.
As people master the art of balancing individual needs with a responsibility for community ALL of our systems will evolve.
When our Trust in People = our Trust in Money the change in our systems will be palpable.
Learn more about how to accelerate positive change here:
Collective Impact: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact/
Our Move from Consumption to Community: http://tammymaloney.com/2011/06/10/our-move-from-consumption-to-community/