Initiatives

The Corporate World

 

By far the most sweeping changes have occurred in the corporate world, most notably in the United States and most notably in high tech fields. That said, systems thinking, complexity, and wicked problems are part and parcel of corporate life around the world. What’s more, most analysts now fully understand that economic well being is an integral part of any discussion of security in the twenty-first century.

In fact, there are too many buzzwords in the writing on the new economy to keep up with, including networked enterprises, flattened hierarchies, empowered workers, disruptive technologies, sharing economies, and corporate ecosystems—to cite just a few.

It’s not just new terminology. We find companies in industry after industry that are making inroads that both help them make money and address one or more society-wide wicked problems simultaneously. Hospitals that foster teamwork provide better health care at lower cost. Silicon Valley is an engine for economic growth in part because many of its engineers and executives take advantage of the social networks of creative people found there. Whole Foods has become the largest chair of organic food super markets in large part because of the shopping experience it offers and because it a large part of its profits to spur economic and social development both in the communities it serves in the Global South. San Francisco’s Delancey Street has demonstrated that successful companies can be built in the service sector that only employ ex-convicts, addicts, and others who are typically seen as “losers” by traditional social service providers. Even major multinationals like Unilever are experimenting with ways of combining the search for profit with social responsibility by unleashing what the late CK Prahalad called the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.

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