Business Must Lead

Editor’s Note: This post was contributed by Josh Jones-Dilworth, co-founder of the Culturati Summit and CEO of JDI.

In his brilliant introduction to this year’s NewCo Shift Forum, our friend John Battelle wrote that “increasingly, business is how our society works through our most pressing questions.” We couldn’t agree more.

Matthew Dowd presciently made a similar remark on the Culturati Summit stage in January: “the corporation is perhaps the most effective vehicle for societal and cultural impact in America today.”

Organizations have an increasing responsibility to their surrounding communities, we think. At Culturati Connect ’17, National Advisory Board member Peter Zandan beseeched local businesses in Austin: “please, do not sit on the fence.”

These remarks taken together support a view of culture building in 2018 and beyond as an activity that’s profoundly at the edge, culture that begins and ends at that most outer point where your organization’s mission inevitably touches the needs of the society that surrounds it.

It is increasingly hard to keep to ourselves.

We’d go further and argue that the world’s highest-performing companies maintain a rich culture at the edge. Here is a photo of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, its biggest yet. What was at once a procedural event is today a veritable pilgrimage.

Folks don’t just go to hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speak. They go for the community, the camaraderie, and the tangible sense that some bigger and more important is afoot.

Again, read Battelle on this issue. The nation’s most important companies are grappling with the fact that “what’s entirely clear…is that beyond job creation or social responsibility, businesses are being called to lead.”

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