Purpose Inspired: by Wayne Visser

Purpose Inspired: by Wayne Visser

Prof. Wayne Visser, PhD, shares his reflections on what it means to be purpose-inspired - for business, society and each one of us. The podcast explores how business can be a force for good in the world, and how individuals can make a positive difference. Covering topics like corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainable business and transformational change, each series is based on one of Dr Visser's books that synthesizes the emerging ideas, practices and lessons learned on the journey to becoming purpose-inspired.

Episodes

January 11, 2019 3 min

Hello. I’m Professor Dr Wayne Visser and in this podcast series, I share my reflections on what it means to be purpose-inspired, whether as an organisation, an individual or even as a whole society. It is really the story of my own exploration over the past 20 years of how business can be a force for good in the world, and how individuals can make a positive difference. I have organized the podcast chronologically, so you join me o...

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“Greed is good”. Some of you might remember the phrase immortalized by Michael Douglas who played Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street. Well, the world has more than lived up to these words by pursuing the principle that excessive greed is even better. In a critical analysis of the principles driving modern business, Series 1 of the Purpose Inspired podcast by Wayne Visser demonstrates that the predatory behavior of the lion ...

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Magic is the revelation that results from a profound change in perception or understanding. And as with everything in life, there’s good magic and bad magic. Bad magic has moved many companies into a state that is beyond reasonable greed. This podcast introduces the call for a Reformation in business, along the same lines as the one precipitated by Martin Luther in 1517. Reform is critical for business to restore its reputation, pa...

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The best chance for companies to survive an accumulation of changes to the environment is to develop a better understanding of how evolution itself works. The popular Darwinian notion of a slow, incremental process of continuous improvement by random trial and error is only partially accurate. Evolution also happens in great leaps of sudden transformation, so-called discontinuities. Small changes have a cumulative effect so that wh...

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There is a common driving force in all creation and evolution - a golden thread which Jan Smut called holism. Holism is a fundamental tendency within nature (including human society and its institutions) to form wholes of ever-greater synergy. Synergy is the now well-known concept of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. What characterises these wholes is increasingly complex relationships between their diverse element...

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The lion as an inspirational role model is neither new nor unique to business. But the role of business is changing and the hunting lifestyle is proving to have a number of weaknesses in the new landscape of sustainability. The modern capitalist company, while it continues to portray itself as a lion king, has a number of blindspots with reference to sustainability. These fatal flaws or false assumptions, that are beginning to chal...

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Physical growth is inherent in nature, but it doesn’t continue ad infinitum. And yet, there is a widely held belief that economic growth is always good and should be continuously strived for. Now business has to face the fact that economic growth does not automatically benefit either society or the environment. The UNDP puts this qualitative difference in a nutshell when it identifies the following five damaging forms of growth: jo...

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February 15, 2019 20 min

What if, in business, Lion was no longer king? What if Elephant was king (or queen) once more? For, according to the theme of this podcast, in the corporate bushveld of the future where social equity and environmental sustainability are the watchwords of society, Elephant has all the right characteristics to be the leader. Elephants are the epitome of sustainability. They have shown themselves to be supreme survivors and masters at...

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Before exploring how sustainability will change economics and business, we need to understand what sustainability is and what it is not, and how it came about as a force in our society. Sustainability began as an ideological crusade about 50 years ago when a few voices in the wilderness gave a clarion call about how our civilization was on a path to self-destruction. They were ignored as fringe fanatics or doomsayers. Nevertheless,...

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In the 1970s, it was thanks to the zealous efforts of the sustainability prophets that a new social phenomenon was born – the green movement. However, with the spate of industrial accidents in the 1980s, from Bhopal and Love Canal to Chernobyl and Exxon Valdez, the spotlight began to shift from wildlife conservation to industrial pollution. It was not until the politicians were enticed into the debate that sustainability became a m...

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In this podcast, we start going beyond the ‘why’ to the ‘how’ of sustainable business. We explore seven critical dimensions in which shapeshifting needs to occur in order to create sustainable companies. These are: values, vision, work, governance, relationships, communication and services. We begin with values. Values are exactly what they say they are – a reflection of the things we value. They are not motherhood and apple pie st...

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Shapeshifting seldom happens in countries or companies without visionary leadership. Like the revolutionary philosophers and scientists of centuries past, somebody has to be able to step outside of the parochial present and see the bigger picture of the future. And like those historical reformists, today’s innovative leaders walk a tightrope between being recognised and celebrated as a visionaries and being regarded as crackpots to...

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Having a leader’s inspiring vision is one thing, but it is like whistling in the wind unless people in the workplace are able to express their own inherent magic – their creativity and imagination, their values and passions. As Anita Roddick says: “People become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power.” Sustainable companies do something that is almost unimaginable. They accept humans as humans. They don’t tr...

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Over the past decade, for example, numerous corporate governance codes have emerged, which require companies to give a more transparent account of how their business is being run and the impacts on the various stakeholder groups. One of the most recent and progressive documents is South Africa’s revised King Report which even makes explicit recommendations on sustainability reporting and social and ethical accountability. Shapeshif...

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Companies have cultivated relationships only from pure self-interest – mostly with shareholders, financial analysts, customers and suppliers. And usually, these interactions have been a pure power play – wining and dining the influential few, while ignoring the rest or pressuring them into conformance. The idea of genuine dialogue with communities, NGOs and government for the sake of enduring symbiotic relationships, rather than as...

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Communication for sustainable companies is a dialogue: an ongoing, two way, interactive process which involves listening as much as talking, and includes non-verbal as well as verbal exchange. These companies are far less opportunistic when it comes to communicating with stakeholders. The reason they enter into dialogue with their employees, or communities, or environmental NGOs, is the fact that these entities are interconnected i...

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Products and services will need to shapeshift radically in a sustainable world. It will no longer be acceptable or successful to follow the old approach of producing widgets and flogging them to a market brainwashed by advertising, whilst ignoring the damage they cause along the way. The new generation of sustainable products and services will focus on adding value over their entire life cycle. In so doing, they will incorporate de...

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The world we live in is exceedingly complex. We use indicators to simplify things. Indicators work in the same way as a map. They are meant to be a guide, a representation of reality, which help us to understand the lie of the land. The scale of the map and what it is trying to measure will determine how accurately and completely it approximates reality. Except that sometimes we get lazy. In the midst of our information overload, w...

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This podcast introduces the economists’ useful notion of ‘externalities’ or spill-over effects. In the unsustainable economy, companies impose costs on society and nature without paying for these damages – these are negative externalities. For example, we look at what happens if we decrease the stock of biodiversity, either by a wetland being drained for development, tropical forests being cleared for agriculture, or a valley being...

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The explosive growth of this global casino of financial markets is largely as a result of introducing two new games: futures and derivatives trading, beginning in the 1970. Not so long ago, the grave warning of economist John Maynard Keynes echoed loud and clear above the chaotic din of frantic stock market traders: “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely be i...

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