Generating Systemic Wealth — Part 12: Generating Wealth for the Co-Creators

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

The co-creators invest in growing intelligence, wisdom and the ability to create a better future for themselves. They do this by being challenged to contribute their talents and motivation to meaningful work. They are most motivated when they are self-directed and well supplied with mentors and human development opportunities. Even for people who have been cut off from such a context for years, this deep human desire is a bit like trick birthday candles — it reignites. Given the opportunity for applied creativity coupled with personal development, co-creators will invest deeply to bring exciting ideas and practices into existence.

What they expect in return is the opportunity to contribute something unique to the lives of others. As mammals, humans find value in belonging and collaborating. Mirror neurons in the brain allow people to feel good when good happens to others — and to suffer when bad things happen. At the same time, humans each have a unique essence and evaluate return in terms of their ability to reveal and express this essence. The Responsible Corporation knows that it can stretch its co-creators by extending its strategic reach with more demanding offerings, creating mutual benefits in the process. It takes on the impossible — “a big hairy audacious goal,” as Jim Collins says. Google has such a goal: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

These two forces — the eagerness to grow and create, coupled with the desire to make a unique contribution as worthy members of a team — indicate the wealth-generating potential for co-creators. It comes from asking them to make the business responsible for delivering value-adding effects to all stakeholders, through how they do their work. This creates a living incubator, waiting to explode with creativity. The work of the business continues, but how it is done changes. To invent a better way — within the constraints of technology, resources, and ethical considerations — invokes development of the human mind. This is just as true on a low-tech farm as it is in a giant high-tech corporation. People who report that they feel ethical about their work and that they can contribute in a meaningful way, also report that they love their work. That is not a bad return on their investment, and it creates a strong wealth-generating engine.

The current model of wealth generation creates a host of seemingly intractable problems — destructive mining, pollution, costs (environmental, social, and financial) of transportation, wasteful manufacturing, not to mention urban sprawl in cities, social inequity, and wrong-headed economic development. Clearly, the world has failed to put the real power of the co-creators’ minds to work. In most cases, hierarchical work systems prevent it. I almost feel sick when I see how often a manager seeks to scare people into his interpretation of what needs doing, diminishing the return that co-creators expect from the investment of their life in that agency, ministry or company. That is why my book The Responsible Business has an entire section—Irresponsibility Happens: Reframing How Change Works—dedicated to understanding what limits success in becoming a Responsible Corporation.



About Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford is a regenerative business educator, the award winning author of The Regenerative Business: Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes, and executive in residence and senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College. She has worked with fortune 500 executives and rock star entrepreneurs for 40 years, helping them to innovate and grow their businesses by growing their people. Learn more about Carol and her work at her website.