Manifesto for the Societal Transformation of Companies
In our cultures, a company's "success" is measured by performance indicators: financial performance, gross margin, growth, and external recognition (reputation, good will, satisfaction, etc.). However, none of these indicators can tell us whether a company, in its actions, offer and presence, is making a positive contribution to our lives. Companies bring something, but do they bring something good? To answer this question, a transformation of the corporate business model is necessary. This is what societal transformation is about, the phase that will enable the reconciliation of companies and society. Eranos is the guide that leads companies along this transformation, to help them become industries of life.
1 The Finding
A Trading Space That Can No Longer Absorb The Oversupply Nor The Useless
Since the 19th century, our economy has been guided by a largely unchanged utopia of work and production. We can call it the utopia of the production economy. It unfolds according to the idea that the world is to be perpetually equipped and kept busy, and that the means to do so are increasingly accessible. These principles, which we still follow today, are thus adapted to demographics, technical capacities and dogmas that are very remote from our reality. Why do we still support the possibility of unlimited development through our means of production when we are experiencing the boundaries of our world's resources?
1990. Industrial Revolution
The mass sum of man-made objects encroaches on our liveable space.
1930-1990. Obsolescence, marketing, recycling.
The 20th century pushed back the limits of the saturation of physical space.
2 The Problem
Organizations That Unwillingly Take Part In The Uninhabitability Of The World
The current problem is therefore that companies have difficulty accessing the consequences of their actions. The production economy has produced organizations that have dissociated themselves from the repercussions of consumption: organizations that, in fact, do not have the right tools to estimate their own externalities. Imbued with the imagination of an unlimited world, these organizations, like us, are thus trapped in a cultural inertia. Yet many of them have already become aware of the stalemate. We claim that trade is a fundamental activity of human life, and nothing predisposes it to be a negative force in the development of societies.
3 The Solution
Making Production Vital
We must now get rid of our utopia of the production economy. For this purpose, we must begin by asking ourselves: why do we produce? What is the meaning of our trading system? To what human aspirations may economic activities contribute? What source of value covers these aspirations? These issues are all the more urgent as one economic crisis follows another, as inequalities have never been so deep, and as our habitat is threatened by the very nature of our trading exchanges.
4 Our Mission
Reconciling Business And Society
The discord between business and society is old and structural: consumer confidence has been dropping steadily since the 1970’s. On the one hand, companies exploit the resources of the earth and of the human mind. On the other hand, society creates numerous methods linked to human sciences to better understand itself: what is good for us? What is vital to us? But these efforts do not converge. Too many marketing campaigns do not care about the unhappiness they cause. And too many theses are left unread. The time has come to reconcile business and society.
5 The Method
Humanities + Business
We cannot take care of what we do not know well. Certainly, the discord between business and society is the result of a common misconception. For a long time, companies have been deprived of the means that would allow them to gain a thorough understanding of the world in which they operate. Very often, information about their environment (social and natural) is extracted from surveys, biased quantitative data and uprooted economic analyses of illustrative value. This “truncated” knowledge reflects a logic of imperatives, short-term actions, and even dead angles inherent to our vocational training cultures. For companies not to deteriorate their own market through their actions, they must adopt a methodology to acquire complete knowledge of their environment. This is what humanities offer.