It’s possible to do things differently

I just read an article called “Can there be ‘good’ corporations?” by Marjorie Kelly. She is busy writing a book called Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution. The article is REALLY good. Please read it. It points out some very interesting things around the rise of new forms of business, alternatives to the old “shareholders earn all the profit” model. It also explores the story of the John Lewis Partnership, the largest department store chain in England which is 100% owned by employees. I’m blown away. I’ve been into these stores hundreds of times and never known how radically different its underlying structure is.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

  • 1. There is an alternative to capitalism. This is the heresy that the keepers of the temple do not wish us to utter. It is possible to organize a large, sophisticated, modern economy that tends toward fair and just outcomes, benefits the many rather than the few, and enables an enduring human presence on a flourishing Earth.
  • 2. Getting there is not only about regulation but about emergence. As organizational change theorist Margaret Wheatley writes, “emergence” refers to what happens when local actions spring up and connect through networks. Without warning, emergent phenomena can occur, such as the rise of the organic food movement. Such movements rely not on central leadership but on shared vision.
  • 3. The generative economy is not a legal exercise but the embodiment of an emerging value system. Companies in the generative economy are built around values; the John Lewis Partnership’s core value is fairness, while Organic Valley’s core values are sustainability and community.
  • 4. Generative values become enduring through the social architecture of ownership. The generative economy is built on a foundation of stakeholder ownership designed to generate and preserve real wealth—resources held and shared by our communities and the ecosystems we live in. These enterprises don’t have absentee ownership shares trading in a casino economy, but ownership held in human hands.

More people need to know that it is possible to do things differently. South Africa is an incredibly entrepreneurial country but young entrepreneurs need to know the alternatives or else they will simply create businesses modelled on the corporates of old which are out of alignment with the rising consciousness of current generations.  What worked for the Baby Boomers does not work for Generation X and Y. We need to do things differently. So read this article and go tell your friends that run their own businesses or might one day want to start their own business, to read it. It’s possible to do things differently.


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