am 1. Dezember 1998
New Book Provides Road Map and Tools For Building Visionary, Values-Based Businesses
(Washington, D.C. - December 1, 1998) You don't have to look far these days to witness the growing trend in business to nurture the corporate "soul." Once muttered in hushed tones of self-conscious reserve, soft-sounding words like "values" and "meaning" and "spirituality" are becoming as bold and common in the corporate lexicon as hard-nosed phrases like "bottom-line" and "return on investment." Until recently, though, the two vocabularies have struggled to come together in any cohesive, systematic process for guiding the strategies and actions of corporate America.
In a new book entitled Liberating the Corporate Soul (Butterworth-Heinemann publishers), author and business consultant, Richard Barrett, bridges that gap with an approach to organizational planning that will warm the hearts of human resources, corporate affairs and financial people alike.
The book begins with a review of Barrett's central thesis that "who you are and what you stand for are becoming just as important as what you sell." Next, Barrett describes his Corporate Transformation ToolsSM which is a set of measurement instruments for "auditing" individual and organizational values. Finally, the book provides a framework for using those tools to build a visionary, values-based organization.
Barrett's model is based partly on the landmark work of Abraham Maslow who defined the human "hierarchy of needs" on four main levels - security, relationship, self-esteem, and self-actualization. "Maslow himself concluded, however, that self-actualized individuals were actually motivated by higher states of consciousness, including spiritual needs," says Barrett. "But he never fully delineated what those states were."
Liberating the Corporate Soul expands on Maslow's work with a detailed explanation of Barrett's Seven Levels of Organizational Consciousness (survival, relationship, self-esteem, transformation, organization, community, and society) and Seven Levels of Leadership Consciousness (authoritarian, paternalist, manager, facilitator, collaborator, partner/servant, wisdom/visionary). According to Barrett, one level isn't necessarily superior to another. "All are relevant. It's really more a question of balance," he says. "However, it is at the higher levels of consciousness that organizations are meeting spiritual needs that focus more on the common good than individual self-interest."
The book's message and methodology are receiving acclaim from noted business leaders and authors throughout the world. Martin Rutte, co-author of the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work calls Barrett's book "the bold, practical blueprint we need for moving business to the next evolutionary level. Sweeping, brilliant, a sense of the grandeur of the new paradigm of business." Marcello Palazzi, Co-Founder and Chair of the Progessio Foundation in The Netherlands says that "Liberating the Corporate Soul achieves the impossible: it integrates the intangibles of ethics, vision, and consciousness into a tangible measurement system."
Barrett began his search for a mechanism that would align an organization's actions and decisions with individual and social values when he was employed at the World Bank. In the early 1990s, he set out on a personal mission to move values to the top of the bank's business agenda. Through a series of determined steps - including the formation of the "Spiritual Unfoldment Society" at the bank - he managed to fulfill his mission and simultaneously formulate his values-based organizational development system.
Today, Barrett is head of his own consulting firm, Richard Barrett and Associates, LLC, and he is using his values-based system in working with organizations throughout the world. He is quick to point out that all of the organizations with which he works have values. The question is whether those values resonate internally with employees searching for deeper meaning in their work lives, as well as externally with a society increasingly favoring businesses that exhibit advanced levels of social consciousness.
The book cites revealing data from several research studies to support Barrett's claim of shifting trends in employee and social attitudes. The Cone/Roper Marketing Trends Report shows that 76% of consumers in 1997 said they would switch to brands associated with a good cause if price and quality were equal. That figure is up from 66% in 1993. On the employee front, a study conducted by Students for Responsible Business with 2,100 students at 50 graduate business programs found that 50% said they would accept a lower salary to work for a "very socially responsible" company. Perhaps more revealing, 43% claimed they would not work for a company that was not socially responsible.
Data like that is not being lost on some of the country's leading business figures. In his book, Barrett quotes Levi Strauss CEO, Robert Haas, as stating "In the next century, a company will stand or fall on its values."
None of the enthusiasm for this growing trend is much of a surprise to Barrett. "People naturally feel better about themselves and their companies when they see a clear sense of values, vision and compassion driving management decisions and actions," he says. And there's good news in that for the people watching the bottom line, because those positive feelings will translate into greater loyalty, stronger performance, and higher profits. It's a win-win outcome all the way around."
Liberating the Corporate Soul is now on sale at major bookstores across the country.