Add social value in 2007

The New Year is a time for planning and implementing. Many of us had resolutions (see previous post on Positive NYD Resolutions) and some of us might actually keep them.

At work, we are implementing fresh new business strategies for 2007. New products, new processes and mostly new projects abound.

In this advice post, I would like to challenge you to finalize and launch your three social-value projects for the year. Why? Adding social value is the key to your personal and professional success in life. Look around you. Companies and people that use their work or career to make the world a better place are doing well in their markets – in every way. It is the future. The world is changing fast and customers, employees and investors are looking to the business world to make a difference and do no harm.

Many of us were trained to think of our worth as measured by how much financial value or practical value we add in work and life. However, the culture of today is beginning to reward a new breed of company and leader – one that adds social value through being a great employer, giver, grower of communities and citizen of the planet. It is a new paradigm.

This post is a call for alignment with the times. You cannot wait for your company to wake up and decide it is in business for good – giving you permission to change the world through your work. Instead, you need to demonstrate 21st century leadership and do good, lead others to good and evangelize. How can you do this? Good planning and clear vision.

But as the John Goodman character said in the Raising Arizona, “I’d rather light a candle than curse your darkness.” So here is my piece of advice as well as my personal plan to do this.

In 2007 I am going to have three projects that are geared to create social value. They will cover three categories:
A cause (A long term broad based cause that I can get involved with and recruit people at work to get involved with. To be synergistic, the cause should have a logical link to the business or be relevant to the gestalt of your social circle.)

A give-back (An organization, group or even individual in need receives cash, time or resources either from me or my company. Again, link this to the business and its ecosystem – who it impacts, how it makes money, the communities it serves/profits from.)

A do-right (One person or group that I will treat with compassion, empathy and equality. They/she might be suffering due to pressures of role-based tensions. Others may not treat them/him right in the average situation. This can be your colleague, your employee, a business partner or even a Customer.)

Spend the rest of January thinking about your cause, give-back and do-right projects. If you do all three (starting Feb 1), you’ll have a well rounded approach to adding social value in 2007. Not only will you scratch at the door of significance this year – you will set an example for good. Do this and be a true leader for the social century.

Recommended reads:
1. Love is the Killer App: How To Win Business & Influence Friends — my first book from way back in 2002. Argues that success comes through significance, and sharing is the key.
2. Profits With Principles: Seven Strategies For Delivering Value With Values by Ira Jackson and Jane Nelson. This book shows how companies win markets by living their values. It also demonstrates how to find the right ways to “lead your company to good.”