Category Archives: Business

Can the corporate beast be tamed?

One of my favorite radio programs is Freakonomics, and my very favorite grocery store is Trader Joe’s. What do these two things have to do with one another?  Well, the other day, while preparing dinner, I was scanning the Freakonomics website to find an interesting episode I might have missed hearing on NPR.

Lo and behold, there at the top of the page was one titled, Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s? (Ep. 359 Rebroadcast). Considering my loyalty to Trader Joe’s and my keen interest in politics, I could not resist listening to the podcast. Given my longstanding patronage, I already knew quite a bit about the company from the standpoint of a customer, but was oblivious to the many other features that make Trader Joe’s so unique.

If you’ve ever shopped at one of its stores you will know that TJ’s, as it is affectionately called, is not like other grocery chains. It does things differently. But beyond that, TJ’s business practices are also different, and in many cases contrary to conventional business “wisdom.” I could enumerate these to save you time, but that would spoil your enjoyment of listening to the program and pondering the possibilities as the program reveals them. But I’ll give you a hint: What do large corporation set as their top priority? Compare and contrast…

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A conversation with Ron Whitney

In our latest Beyond Money Podcast we explore with Ron Whitney the evolution of the commercial trade exchange industry, which over the past 50 years has proven the workability of credit clearing as a way of doing business without the need for money payment.

Ron operated his own trade exchange for 15 years, and since 2007 has taken on the role of President and CEO of IRTA, the International Reciprocal Trade Association, the premier trade association of, and advocate for, the commercial trade exchange industry.

Ron shares his vast knowledge and insights about the current challenges, prospects, and opportunities, including a description of the benefits of trade exchange membership and the increasing use of Universal Currency (UC) to enable purchases and sales over an extended trade exchange network.

This interview can be found at: http://beyondmoney.libsyn.com/ron-whitney-irta, or https://soundcloud.com/user-27167973/ron-whitney-irta.

You can find links to all of our Beyond Money Podcasts in the menu at the top of this page or at https://beyondmoneypodcast.wordpress.com/.

Democratizing capitalism

Cutting Edge Capital’s Vice-President Brian Beckon provides a crash course on investing and community development, and describes how ordinary people can invest some of their savings in local profit-making ventures that conform to their values. The strategies being worked out by his firm are aimed at creating healthier, more resilient and self-reliant communities while enabling small investors to earn a share of the profits generated by businesses that they believe in and wish to support. Approaches like these are essential to building a more democratic and equitable economy. Listen here.

Qoin launches B2B exchange

Community Currencies in Action (CCIA) has announced the launch of TradeQoin , a business-to-business trade exchange in the Netherlands.

As their website describes it, “TradeQoin is a trading network for SME entrepreneurs to do business with each other and pay with their own digital form of payment: the TradeQoin. Entrepreneurs can use TradeQoin to purchase and sell quality products and services. By selling products and/or services the entrepreneur can earn TradeQoin. These can then be spent on making purchases within the network, which reduces Euro expenditure.”

The video below features members describing the benefits of the exchange.

http://youtu.be/7VuIpFO7zZM

You can read more about it here, http://communitycurrenciesinaction.eu/sme-tradenetwork/

 

Green Fast Food Chain Beats Competition in Sweden and Elsewhere

I was recently a panelist at a seminar on the island of Gotland, Sweden along with Par Larshans who happens to be the chief sustainability officer for Max Burgers, Sweden’s No. 1 burger chain. Par sent me a link to an article that appeared about a year ago in Time magazine. The article,Why Going Green Can Mean Big Money for Fast-Food Chains, describes the phenomenal business success that Max achieved as it took measures to reduce it’s carbon footprint and provide healthier choices for its customers. Read it here. — t.h.g.

Reorganizing business: from serving stockholders to serving people

Part of the socio-economic transformation that needs to occur lies in shifting business motivation from profits for a few, to benefiting the common good. Cooperatives are not the full answer, but may have a useful role to play. A recent article, Six Ways to Fuel the Cooperative Takeover, provides some useful ideas in that direction.

Here is a summary of the Six Ways:

1. Find Money

2. Convert to a Co-op

3. Hook Up With Big Partners

4. Be Co-op Curious

5. Shop Co-op

6. Make Co-op Friendly Laws

The details can be read here.

Organizational design for life: Can Corporations be Reformed?

Important insights from Marjorie Kelly

I first met Marjorie Kelly more than 15 years ago when we were both privileged to be participants in a series of colloquia organized by the late Willis Harman (then Executive Director of the Institute of Noetic Sciences) and Avon Mattison of Pathways to Peace. I was, from that first meeting, quite impressed with Marjorie’s intelligence and passion for positive change. She founded, and for 20 years published, Business Ethics magazine. She is the author of The Divine Right of Capital and recently, Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution.

Her recent article, Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy, raises fundamental questions about the economy, corporations, and generative ownership designs. It is one of the most insightful and important articles I’ve ever read on the topic of organizing for sustainability. Here are a few excerpts. –t.h.g.

“What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being?” .

You don’t start with the corporation and ask how to redesign it. You start with life, with human life and the life of the planet, and ask, how do we generate the conditions for life’s flourishing?

If you stand inside a large corporation and ask how to make our economy more sustainable, the answers are about incremental change from the existing model. The only way to start that conversation is to fit your concerns inside the frame of profit maximization. (“Here’s how you can make more money through sustainability practices.”) Asking corporations to change their fundamental frame is like asking a bear to change its DNA and become a swan. ……

Can we sustain a low-growth or no-growth economy indefinitely without changing dominant ownership designs?

That seems unlikely. Probably impossible. How, then, do we make the turn? How can we design economic architectures that are self-organized not around profit maximization, but around serving the needs of life? ……

In ownership design, there are five essential patterns that work together to create either extractive or generative design: purpose, membership, governance, capital, and networks. Extractive ownership has a Financial Purpose: maximizing profits. Generative ownership has a Living Purpose: creating the conditions for life. While corporations today have Absentee Membership, with owners disconnected from the life of enterprise, generative ownership has Rooted Membership, with ownership held in human hands. While extractive ownership involves Governance by Markets, with control by capital markets on autopilot, generative designs have Mission-Controlled Governance, with control by those focused on social mission. While extractive investments involve Casino Finance, alternative approaches involve Stakeholder Finance, where capital becomes a friend rather than a master. Instead of Commodity Networks, where goods are traded based solely on price, generative economic relations are supported by Ethical Networks, which offer collective support for social and ecological norms.

Ownership is the gravitational field that holds an economy in its orbit. Today, dominant ownership designs lock us into behaviors that lead to financial excess and ecological overshoot. But emerging, alternative ownership patterns – when properly designed – can have a tendency to lead to beneficial outcomes. It may be that these designs are the elements needed to form the foundation for a generative economy, a living economy – an economy that might at last be consistent with living inside a living being.

Read the complete article here.