Business as a force for Good

At Digital Operative we want to be part of a change that is happening which is turning business on its head. Can we make business about being the best for the world and not just the best in the world? Well this is what the B Corporation NZ movement is all about, and we want to be part of this, and to help our customers become part of B Corporation NZ.

Christchurch was very fortunate to have Derek Handley, aspiring astronaut and global business change agent, visit and speak at a couple of events recently.

Derek was a “classically” successful guy. He was an entrepreneur from an early age and was primed and ready for the dot com boom of the late 90’s/early 00’s when he established the Hyperfactory in 2001 and ultimately came out very well off after his business was acquired.

When I say “classically successful”, I mean he got very dollar rich. And for the best part of our existence that equates to being truly successful. But with financial wealth comes opportunities, most of all perhaps the opportunity to have time to think.

Some financially rich people see “giving back” through philanthropy as a noble gesture, and it certainly is. Derek however considered this to be rather short sighted, especially if by gaining that wealth you were complicit in destroying the environment or social fabric around you. Being the true entrepreneur, rather than just thinking about that, he set about seeking a new way for business to be done, so that in the future giving back would be ingrained in the day to day running of business.

From December 2011 Derek donated two years of his life to work alongside Richard Branson with the goal of working out how business can be done better. This culminated in the creation of the B-Team, and then in 2013 another of his business ventures, Snakk Media, became one of only two certified B Corporations in NZ.

With so many economic, social and environmental challenges facing us, It is clear to see that in the future business needs to be done differently. Short-term, profit driven thinking will ultimately drive us all to destruction. The game is changing and it is fantastic that we have Kiwi’s and Kiwi companies driving the adoption of the concept of “people using business as a force for good”, but how do get this embedded into our collective psyche so that as a nation we lead that change?

From what Derek spoke about I would highlight three steps that are essential:

Leadership – We need courageous, bold, longterm and visionary political and business leadership.

Design Thinking – That same leadership needs to understand the value of design thinking. Derek attributed his knowledge of architecture to be a large part of his success.

Brave Conversations – NZ is a small place, so to change the conversation about what we value and where we want to go should be easy. As Derek said we only need to get a handful of the key leaders in the room to start that.

We have the beginnings of something happening in New Zealand and we are a country of many firsts in global thought leadership. As Derek Sivers said in his TED talk on how to start a movement, “If you really care about starting a movement, have the courage to follow and show others how to follow. And when you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.”

New Zealand, we have a few lone nuts doing something great, so stand up and join in B Corporation NZ.

Thanks to Tim Jones for the content of this blog.