In 1970, Milton Friedman famously wrote, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits….”. For this kind of thinking, Friedman was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1976. But times change. Friedman’s oft-repeated assertion has since been described as “The World’s Dumbest Idea”. Today, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our potential as leaders and as stewards of the world’s resources—an opportunity to change the way we run organizations and modern capitalism. We are hungering for fresh ideas that will help us to reimagine our potential and recalibrate our ideas about our roles as leaders. If we wish to be relevant to the leaders of today and tomorrow, we need to move away from the superficial and the legacy models of the past, away from the “flashing lights, sirens and whistles” of motivation and “rah-rah entreaties”. It is time for leaders to heal the wound of the heart that Covid did not bring about, but brought into sharper focus. There are organizations and thought leaders who will step into the space that has now been created and lead with the necessary passion and intellectual rigor that will elevate our consciousness and our capacity to contribute to a better and safer world. This is the world of STEM of course, but more importantly, it is the world of the spirit—of empathy, collaboration, service, humilty, openness, candor—and, most importanlty—love. It is time to ask ourselves, Am I capable of doing this? Do I wish to do this? Am I tweaking and amplifying the paradigms of the past, or bringing about the new thinking necessary for a sustainable future?
Big questions. Big responsibilities. Big stakes.
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