Thinking Differently


System Change examplesIn the last two months I have talked to a large number of Phds.  What I have learned is they are very good at recognizing the problems. When I say we are headed to h… in a hand basket, I get instant agreement. We do not need to spend anytime debating the truth of this statement or their underlying causes.

What I found interesting though is their instant reaction to new ideas on what to do about it.

It seems that their training has taught them that they already know everything there is to know and that if there was another good idea they would already know it. For sure they know a lot and they are experts in their field. What the world needs is new creative thinking that moves us out of our well established patterns of behavior.

We need all brains on deck to approach new ideas with curiosity and creativity It is our collective acceptance that we are already doing the best we can that is the riskiest solution. It is much easier to rationalize why the present thinking is the best thinking than it is to challenge it with hard questions.

For example, I have been talking to experts in psychology, sociology, business, and economics about one idea that could contribute to a better world.

The idea is that we ought to be creating a ‘giving forward’ economy instead of a ‘taking’ economy. In a ‘giving forward’ economy, business purpose would shift from ‘make money any way you can’ to ‘make money by increasing the well-being of humanity.’ This idea is quickly dismissed as impractical by the experts, that the only model that can work is a model where we take a lot out of the world whether it is contributing to well-being or not and then give a little back. Yet these same people tell me this is unsustainable and will lead us to the train wreck that is now clearly visible on the horizon.

My own experience tells me they are wrong. I have helped launch and develop several giving forward businesses and in every case they have become more profitable with more engaged employees and more satisfied and very loyal customers.

Each of these companies has done what the ‘experts’ say is impossible. They have increased their revenues exponentially, they have attracted a loyal customer base that often ‘volunteer’ to help the business (when have you seen a customer in Canadian Tire or Walmart ask the manger if he can help straighten up the shelves) and they have become very profitable. They generate new business by word of mouth – the most effective and least expensive kind of advertising and they are able to as premium prices. These companies cross many market segments; retail, manufacturing, agriculture, financial, and personal services. Some of these businesses operate on a national or global scale.

It turns out that the market place actually likes companies that ‘give forward’ as their business model.

I have through my career talked with hundreds of business people who tell me the greatest satisfaction they get is not from hat their business does, but from what they can give back. My question is if entrepreneurial happiness comes from helping others, why not create a business that does that a lot – why not transform business to a ‘giving forward’ business. In my experience, with a little imagination and good business practice, every business can become a ‘giving forward’ business.

Perhaps we can change the standard for how we do things.

If you are a business person and these ideas resonate with you, reach out to me at

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