The Business Synergy Effect

”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

This quote is the article 1 in the Universal declaration of human rights. Written and agreed upon in 1948 it has to be understood in the light of the recent world war. The atrocities brought about by this complete moral meltdown would be countered by a new rise of the human spirit.

What caught my interest in these two sentences is the definition of a human essence. The keywords are free, equal, dignity, rights, reason, conscience, acting and brotherhood. (Plus the fascinating fact that it says ”they” about human beings. Shouldn’t it be ”we”?). I come to think of how Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) reused the idea of Homo Faber, man as maker (of his own destiny) in contrast to other possible modes of existence. The free and equal men and women supposedly proceeding reasonably and consciously to somehow overcome ourselves through utilitarian action. Again to use Arendt’s definitions — Vita Activa (the active life) seem to somehow preconceive a Vita Contemplativa (a contemplative life), as our actions are thought to be guided by traits and qualities given to us by birth.

I believe history has proved this wrong and we need to put this whole idea up-side down. It could then go something like this: With a chosen spirit of humanhood (the term brotherhood raises gender issues) we can strive to act in increasingly reasonable and ethical ways, and thereby achieve values we deem important — such as freedom, equality, dignity and rights. Do you see what a difference this makes? We don’t produce certain outcomes because of our human essence, but we produce our human essence through our actions.

Our actions define us. I believe this is exactly what is percolating in our contemporary world. The bottomline is that increasingly we are judging each other by what we do, less than what kinds of traits we were born with. A new story is emerging, a new leitmotif which is redefining the idea of humanhood. The old idea was about individualism versus collectivism. This was the grand narrative of the last century, encapsulated in the two sentences in the declaration of human rights. The new story is — individually AND together, and not mutually exclusive.

This is made possible by the embracing of values becoming goals in themselves. If your endeavour creates outputs like freedom, equality, dignity and rights — then your actions are deemed positive. To put this bluntly — if your actions produce imprisonment, inequality, shame and guilt, your project will be appreciated as a negative.

And this is where the business synergy effects come in. Again this is born out of new alloys. If the past century was about the allies and foes, now we need to look for alloys. The reason is that profit and the positive have irrevocably been separated, as profit in itself doesn’t signal virtue or guarantee a positive outcome. But the opposite is equally true — a lack of profit isn’t positive either. So we have this “and” again, a new alloy. In order to produce the values we strive for, such as freedom, equality, dignity and rights, businesses can seek these effects in between themselves. But not only these values but also other ones, such as contemplation, playfulness, care-taking or improved reasoning, among many other possible values.

I believe this is the new business landscape we should try to learn to navigate. My contribution is the Enterprise Crew, an alloy of experts from across the globe creating new meaningful strategic alliances which we call Constellations

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re on the same page.

Jonas Bergvall / June 2017