By: Rebecca Saltman Issue: Conscious Capitalism Section: Collaborator Profile
It Ain’t Just a Cookbook
I am always searching for colleagues in collaboration. Such is the reason for my meeting (better described: stalking) of Jeff Klein, the author of Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living. Several years ago, my colleague Porcia sent me an innocent email about an organization called FLOW (now called Conscious Capitalism, Inc.) a non-profit “dedicated to liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good” co-founded by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, and educational entrepreneur Michael Strong. I went to the website and I was immediately hooked. Who wouldn’t be happy about “creating sustainable peace, prosperity and happiness for all in our lifetime?” I then went about the business of tracking down the executive director of this extraordinary organization, who clearly took pity on me and started answering my incessant questions regarding the organization and collaboration.
I have gotten to know Jeff over the past few years and have come to recognize him as a true model of collaboration in action! When I heard his new book was due to hit the stands, I couldn’t grab a copy fast enough. I knew it would be a great opportunity for ICOSA readers to have stories of successful “conscious business” evincing collaboration in an accessible, real-world scenario. Jeff focuses on awareness, embodiment, connection and integration, using stories and exercises to show that drawing out the best in others synergistically increases creativity, productivity and sustainability.
Jeff loves breaking new ground when building projects from vision to reality; he finds natural rewards in collaborating with passionate and purposeful people committed to excellence. It was truly a pleasure to talk to Jeff about both the book and his experiences with collaboration.
At ICOSA we believe that collaboration is often the key to success. Describe how Working for Good uses collaboration as a key component for success. What did you learn about collaboration while writing the book?
Collaboration is essential for success in Working for Good. Businesses, projects, or any human endeavor exists and operates in interdependent systems. As the saying goes, “No man is an island.”
I purposefully developed and produced Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living through collaboration. While I wrote the book myself, I began the process through a series of conversations with a dozen friends and colleagues, which reinforced and refined many of my ideas. Then I periodically visited with my friend, colleague and mentor Elad Levinson, whose wise insights and skillful guidance frequently facilitated flow for me. My friend and colleague Julie van Amerongen helped me to refine my language and to keep my sense of humor, both of which infused me with energy when I was wavering. My editor Kelly Notaras helped me to find my voice as a writer with her skillful and laser sharp editing.
The process of collaboration continues with Shelly Vickroy and others at Sounds True in the marketing of the book and with Julie in promotion around my appearances.
If we think about it, we collaborate all the time, to get most anything we do done. But most of our collaboration is not conscious. That is, we don’t think about the fact that we are collaborating. We could look at the creation of this interview as you doing one thing, then me doing one thing, and back and forth in that way – somewhat separate and, while related, disconnected. But by explicitly acknowledging that we were collaborating, the process was a purposeful co-creation. I didn’t feel like I had to carry the piece or process, nor did you. We carried it together and had a light, playful, and delightful experience. At least I did!
What was your motivation for building Cause Alliance Marketing (a business and a model explicitly based on collaboration)?
I have been interested in working to address pressing social and environmental issues for decades. Many years ago I realized that to address these issues would require coordinated campaigns engaging various organizations from multiple sectors in deep, ongoing collaboration. At the same time, as a marketer, I recognized that the issues needed marketing campaigns and companies, NGOs and other organizations needed to address their short-term, bottom line objectives and their long-term, strategic interests through their “investments” in social service.
Cause Alliance Marketing programs or alliances exist as interdependent marketing, social service and positioning platforms, leveraging the resources and capabilities of each member to serve themselves, the collective mission, and the other members, through a collaborative process.
I developed the Cause Alliance Marketing™ model about 8 years ago, and am now applying it with the Conscious Capitalism Alliance, the Working for Good Alliance and in work I am doing in other contexts. At the core of each alliance is a team of collaborators who serve as a board of directors and as the driving force for the alliance. In the CCA, we have an incredible team, including extraordinary CEOs – John Mackey, Cheryl Rosner, and Randy Eisenman, leading edge consultants – Rand Stagen and Timothy Henry, pioneering academics – Ed Freeman and Raj Sisodia, and my brilliant colleagues and collaborators in Conscious Capitalism, Inc, Philomena Blees and, co-founder of CCI (with John Mackey), Michael Strong. Founding corporate members include Whole Foods Market, Satori Capital, and O.N.E. World Enterprises, makers of O.N.E. Drinks. And we are about to launch our Leadership Community comprised of individual executive members (CEOs and Presidents).
Some variation of this structure forms the body of all of the alliances. At each level and for all members, there is a clear value exchange. Everyone brings something to the alliance and receives reciprocal benefit.
I have recently been reading about the MBA Oath. The first two sentences sound like concepts in Working for Good. What skills do MBA students and business leaders need to learn so they can meet the goals of their new oath? What are your thoughts about the oath and how that makes WFG a valuable and timely book for today's business graduates?
Note: The MBA Oath begins with these words: “As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term.” (See www.mbaoath.org)
Great question Rebecca. As you will note, the MBA Oath is essentially an anthem of collaboration: “…to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone.”
In this context, all of the skills of Working for Good – awareness, embodiment, connection, collaboration and integration – are useful, if not essential to fulfilling their oath, as each of the skills cultivate the ability to be aware, present, open, connected and collaborative.
Adding these “human” skills to the powerful analytical tools that MBA students learn will foster well-rounded, creative, inspired, innovative entrepreneurs, leaders and change agents who will make a profound impact in the marketplace and on society.
Employee, customer and other stakeholder engagement are increasingly becoming one of the most significant issues facing companies. Engagement requires connection, real relationships. And real relationships require trust and the skills to cultivate and sustain that trust.
Consumers increasingly demand that companies they buy from serve society beyond delivering quality products and services. To do so requires real collaboration between business, civil society, and government. And collaboration requires human skills, beyond analytical skills.
Describe some of the core strategies you employ to design and facilitate collaboration-based alliances.
* Engage with collaborators or clients who are passionate, dedicated, trustworthy and available to do the work of starting something new. * Identify and engage Alliance Members with shared values, vision, and purpose. * Deeply engage participants throughout all levels of Members’ organizations. * Look at the Alliance as an ecosystem of a diverse pool of Members with compatible needs and objectives, complementary resources and capabilities. * Understand and address goals and objectives of each Alliance Member, as appropriate. * Have clearly defined responsibility, accountability and authority. * Create value for all Members while advancing the shared mission. * Cultivate the skills of Working for Good with and between Members to create a conscious, entrepreneurial culture within the Alliance, with open communications, deep trust and effective collaboration. * Define clear, measurable outcomes, measure results and modify program activity to reflect feedback.
What are the keys to collaborating for the greater good?
Most anything we do, and certainly anything we do in business, social enterprise, or public service we do with others. Conscious, purposeful collaboration is a powerful force for unleashing creativity, passion and productive energy, all of which are core ingredients of success.
The keys to collaborating for the greater good are the same skills required to collaborate in any context, with perhaps a few principles and skills highlighted, given the scope of the intention.
Since we never really know the full affect of our actions or the consequences of our actions, nor do we necessarily know what the greater good is or what serves it, humility is essential. We need to recognize that each of us has limited view and understanding of the issues we are addressing. Collaboration is required to establish a greater, collective intelligence and capacity.
Awareness – of ourselves, our affects on others, and the affects of others on us – is the most essential skill for collaborating for the greater good. Awareness opens us to feedback from others and the environment that give us the opportunity to recognize effects, to adjust our perspective and course of action, to release collective creativity and discover synergies. Curiosity, deep listening to truly hear what others have to say and genuine interest in understanding their perspectives further opens us to possibilities.
Another key to collaborating for the greater good is to learn facilitation skills, even if you are not called upon to formally facilitate. Each of us can serve the process of collaboration as we embody the skills and roles of facilitator, leader and collaborator, as circumstances call us forth.
In my pursuit and practice of working for good over the past three decades, I’ve found that how we work is as, if not more, important than what we do. We can work in a green business, a social service organization, or some other endeavor focused on making the world a better place, but if we treat others and ourselves with disregard or disrespect in the process, we end up creating something far short of our intention. The process is the product. The process is about connecting and collaborating.
I wrote Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living to increase awareness of this fact and to support others to cultivate the skills required to cultivate authentic collaboration for the greater good. To highlight this point, I will write another book, probably titled Working for Good: Together.
Rebecca Saltman is a social entrepreneur and the President and Founder of an independent collaboration building firm designed to bridge business, government, nonprofits and academia.