Carol Sanford

About the Book

About the Book

Most businesses have really good intentions, but they have an incomplete focus for the conversation and therefore their intended results. They are conversing on the old questions, not the new ones. They have to change the conversation.

This way of engaging organizations uses the real potential that capitalism offers- entrepreneurial spirit, individual determination, and creativity that happens every day and everywhere, not just in one function.


What is this book about? The future of business and changing the conversation we are having about responsibility. We move the conversation—

From a Position Approach to a Pervasive Approach (e.g. from a CSR department or officer TO HOW we do business in everything)  We would not manage the development of people or costs as though a function did it for the whole company. It is the responsibility of every manager and employee.(Reimagining Responsibility)

From Measuring Efforts TO Measuring Effects (e.g Stop measuring and reporting activities and practices;  instead measure and report what was change in stakeholders lives) (Reimagining Success)

From "Giving back" TO "Giving as"- e.g The future of giving is in "how" we do business everyday and not what we do afterward, besides that, or in addition to (Reimagining Giving)

From Less Harm TO Increased Vitality: of ecosystems, communities, customer's lives, suppliers' success, employees' meaning, and investors' role in pervasive responsibility. It is not about doing less harm or even doing good.  It is important to work with each system to increase its capacity to be alive and contributing; as well as evolving vitality and viability every day.(Reimagining Wholes)

From Fragmentation TO Incorporation - e.g. instead of dozens of certifications from third parties, that fragments the work to stay certified, responsibility is incorporated into the business and reported by effects achieved. The root of the term "Corporation" means the Body of the Whole, not the sum of the parts. (Reimagining Corporate)

From Triple Bottom Line TO Quintessential Top Line - Bottom line is three arenas, which get measured and reported separately (2 in terms of less harm [social and environment] and one [investors] which is reported in terms of increased wealth.  These arenas are still within the limits of the old choices). To move to a systemic web of five stakeholders that put the customer and their life back in, see communities as unique living entities to be evolved, and embraces suppliers as co-creative partners, not merely links in a chain is added considered. A Bottom Line is what is left after all is made and sold. Top Line is the growth of health of the stakeholders and the system that "makes them up" as it works together. The System of Five working together to make it better for all through time is the Quintessential Top Line.


To Change the Effects requires a change in
Philosophy of Managing:

From Managing systems for a Workforce of Employees TO Managing Systems for a Workforce of CEOs where every person in the co-creative group (employees, suppliers, partners, contractors) think like a CEO and feel responsibility for the success of the whole, including financials, in their everyday decisions and actions. (Reimagining Success)

From Buying Talent TO Building Talent- working from potential that is not fully realized is easy and more profitable, fulfilling and strategic. And it is well documented what it takes to do it (Reimagining Talent)

From Management Delegation TO Co-Creators Initiation: work is structured where employees, suppliers and others making and delivering an offering, take personal responsibility for the stakeholders success based on the businesses' strategic direction (Reimagining Roles)

From Orchestrated Work Systems TO Jazz Performance Systems. No more role-to-role but more self-to-self; hierarchy has nothing to do with intelligence or who is in charge in Jazz groups. People talking to one anther not to positions on an organizations' chart are more creative.

From Giving Rewards to Exemplary Contributors TO Fostering the Rewards of Ubiquitous Contributions

From Feedback to Regulate Behavior TO Feed Forward for Self-Responsibility (Replaces hierarchies with self-organizing, business driven systems)

From a Culture of Personality TO a Culture of Purpose and Principles


Question:  What can people do tomorrow about what you are advocating here?

Leaders in a business or organization can change the conversation to one that begins to re-imagine success.
They can ask:

  1. "What is imperative to improve in terms of success and health in arenas that matter (e.g. kids creating meaningful lives and succeeding in life, the local watershed being understood and engaged for health, customer having products or services that make their lives better) and that we (the business) want to accept part of the responsibility for by HOW we do business?"

    Again, check yourself against the future conversation focus compared to old conversation focus.

  2. Then extend the changed conversation out into the organization and associated relationships. "What would tell us that we are progressing and achieving these new definitions of success? What can we index to?"

  3. Then bring the changed conversation down to the personal and team level.

    "How does or could your work, every day, affect the imperatives and the new measures of successful effects?"

  4. If you want one more, ask people "In what ways do we need to build capability to think like a CEO, across the system as a whole?"