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  • Writer's pictureEvert

"On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world."

Do you sometimes have the feeling that organisations have become less humane? That they only focus on profits? And that they tread their customers, employees and suppliers as a cost burden and nuisance that needs to be controlled? Do you sometimes feel like there's something really wrong with this practice?

It’s not so long ago, that you could open a bank account in 10 minutes at a local branch office. There were nice people that helped you and considered your situation and preferences. You could discuss options and make personal arrangements. There were no PIN cards, no ATM’s and no on-line banking. And it was AL FOR FREE! But the banks promised us those new technologies would make banking easier, faster and cheaper. Yet in reality it became more complex, more time consuming and definitely not cheaper. Banks have closed many branch offices, communication has become on-line only and derived from personal contact. As a result, many customers feel they’re just a number, that they have to do all the work and pay for it too. And it’s not much better for the employees. Many feel they’ve become an extension of a computer, doing dull monotonous work with high stress levels. Evidently the banks are doing fine because they make huge profits. But where is all that money going?

In an interview with the Financial Times, world renown CEO Jack Welsh made the following statements.“It's obvious that strategies are what drive a business. You might, for instance, have a strategy around innovation and producing leading products, or you might have a strategy to become the low-cost global supplier. But you would never tell your employees, our strategy is Shareholder Value. That's not a strategy that helps you when you come to work every day. It doesn't energize or motivate anyone. So basically my point is, increasing the value of your company in both the short and long term is only One outcome of the implementation of successful strategies. I've always felt that way”. Welch went on to say: "As people struggle in the current economic climate, everything is being questioned. People are asking what corporations do, why they do it and how people benefit from it. They question the societal purpose of corporations. Evidently, the future of capitalism is not in shareholder value. This is on everyone's mind right now, and it's a good debate to have."

“In a closed system, distribution of results in favor of one group, can only occur at the expense of the others.

The resulting inequality is the prime cause for loss of engagement, motivation and societal purpose”

It’s becoming more and more clear that our Industrial Age organisation models have reached the end of their useful life. Today, people demand organisations that are relevant and beneficial to our society. And that means that all who are involved in any organisation, should participate and benefit equally and proportionally, while keeping their autonomy. Organisations that solely focus on profits, that only flow to an elite group of shareholders, at the expense of employees, customers, suppliers or the bio-sphere, are no longer tolerated. Sadly, there are still some traditional & bureaucratic institutions that are trapped in the narrative of shareholder value and the rules-based order. And they’re starting to see the results of their choices in the fact that many young talents refuse to work for them anymore. Not alone, buy their products!

At SWARM Organisation we create organisations that are more enjoyable, sustainable and profitable, for people and planet, by taking lessons from the self-organising principles of Nature. If you like to know how we do this, give us call!

Evert Bleijenberg MBA


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