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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, complete, and pretty inspiring too
This is a great book.

I must declare a bias: I am a real fan of the ideas presented here, and I have met both authors.

But trying to put that to one side, I still think it is a great book.

It is very thorough, very complete, and like my colleague Will McInnes' book Culture Shock: A Handbook For 21st Century Business it is full of practical...
Published 19 months ago by Pete Burden

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of empirical evidence beyond Whole Foods experience
Relatively shallow analysis of an argued sustainable form of capitalism - with relatively heavy reliance on experiences at Whole Foods
Published 12 months ago by Orlando Fernandes


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, complete, and pretty inspiring too, 13 Jan 2013
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This is a great book.

I must declare a bias: I am a real fan of the ideas presented here, and I have met both authors.

But trying to put that to one side, I still think it is a great book.

It is very thorough, very complete, and like my colleague Will McInnes' book Culture Shock: A Handbook For 21st Century Business it is full of practical advice and suggestions on building a different type of business.

It is clearly written, full of good stories and quotes. It also seems to include a good measure of honesty - as when John Mackey describes the problems he had with the SEC.

It is ideological, yes, but I think that is what we need right now. There's a lot of talk in business about disruption, and how business should respond, but this book sets out the beginnings of an intellectual and emotional framework for business in the 21st century.

Umair Haque's Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) also comes to mind.

After an introduction, which aims to reset the narrative of business, the book is broken into several sections on making practical changes to the way a business works:

- Higher Purpose
- Stakeholder Integration
- Conscious Leadership
- Conscious Culture and Management

The book pulls together a lot of thinking from a range of very diverse sources. That is the whole point I suppose: to bring topics such as economics, sustainability, business management, psychology and systems thinking together. Indeed, the authors aren't afraid to mix words like love and care in with the kind of terminology (innovation, collaboration, decentralisation) you will read in many modern books on business management.

There are lots of practical examples and stories from Whole Foods Market. That company is obviously better known in the US than the UK, and there is a notable lack of any European examples (John Lewis, the Co-op, Cadburys etc). But as founder and CEO, John Mackey has been through most of the major decisions that need to be made in setting up and growing a large, listed company.

Once or twice I had a bit of a sharp intake of breath.

The term "free-enterprise capitalism" personally reminds me of "free market capitalism", in the style of Reagan and Thatcher. Something to which I have an instinctive and somewhat negative reaction. But, after a moment, I reminded myself to suspend a little, remember that I am not an economic theorist or expert, and read on.

And their real point is that capitalism generally has given itself a very bad name with the people who should be supporting it - those of us who believe in freedom for individuals and also in sharing, giving etc.

The other slight intake of breath came when Margaret Thatcher is listed amongst a list of leaders with high integrity, including Gandhi and other personal heroes. Again personally, I found this hard to take.

But again the truth is this is probably more about my biases and prejudices than anything else. And a good book, I believe, should challenge one's thinking, not just confirm one's prejudices. I resolved to dig out a biography and do some deeper research.

The book ends with sections on starting a conscious business, and transforming to become one.

An appendix covers the business case for Conscious Capitalism - including reference to Raj Sisodia's work on Firms of Endearment and a comparison with the "Good to Great" companies. This, in my view, is a very strong and compelling financial case.

Another appendix gives a very useful list of similar, related approaches (such as sustainable business, B-corporations etc), and explains why conscious capitalism is different.

In a final section, which contains a call to action, I was pleased to see a reference to Tom Paine, author of Common Sense and the Rights of Man. These, at the time, were seditionary works. They stirred people up.

This book is similar - some will hate it, but the mixture of emotion and intellect is powerful. Which is important, because, as the authors say, there's no time to waste.

Overall, this is a manifesto for a new type of business. Or, if you simply want to find out what Conscious Capitalism and Conscious Business are all about, this is a great starting point.

It is a big book as well as a great book. It will take you a while to read. But in my view it is really worth the effort.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why John Mackey and Raj Sisodia are convinced that "Conscious Capitalism will become a dominant paradigm for how to do business", 7 Feb 2013
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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In this book, John Mackey and Raj Sisodia make a number of affirmations with which I wholly agree. For example of what they characterize as "Conscious Capitalism": for profit business initiatives "galvanized by higher purposes that serve and align the interests of all major stakeholders; businesses with conscious leaders who exist in service to the company's purpose, the people it touches, and the planet" and which conduct business "with resilient, caring cultures that make working there a source of great joy and fulfillment."

Presumably they agree with me that it is no coincidence that, each year, most of the companies ranked by Fortune magazine among the most highly admired and best to work for are also ranked among those most profitable and having the greatest cap value in their respective industry segments.

I also agree with Mackey and Sisodia concerning the process (the "HOW") by which business leadership at all levels and in all areas (including but by no means limited to the C-suite) can "liberate the heroic spirit of business." As they explain, "the sad reality is that for too long, business has [as have its leaders] been stuck in a defensive and reactive posture. Entrepreneurs and businesspeople are the heroes of our modern world, yet they have been caricatured as heartless and soulless mercenaries." That's true but what is much more significant, in my opinion, is the fact that business leaders are only now beginning to understand and [begin italics] appreciate [end italics] the importance of getting the values, hopes, dreams, and goals of workers in proper alignment with those of the given enterprise. To a significant extent, in recent decades, it has been the spirit of the workers that has needed liberation. Only then can the aforementioned "higher purposes" be served.

Mackey and Sisodia make brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices that will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. For example, "Tables" and "Figures" that concisely present key data and several dozen mini-case commentaries that enrich and illuminate their narrative. They include those that focus on Whole Foods Market' stakeholder independence model, The Container Store's "heroic selling" philosophy, the Tata Group's rapid and appropriate response to crises, Pedigree's positioning as "the dog-loving company," HCL's self-reinvention, and four "environmental success stories" (3M, UPS, POSCO, and Walmart). Yes, these are large organizations but the lessons to be learned from them are relevant to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the range of subjects covered during the course of the book's narrative:

o Why Capitalism Is Under Attack (Pages 15-21)
o A New Chapter in Human History (26-30)
o The Tenets of Conscious Capitalism (32-35)
o Great Companies Have Great Purposes (59-64)
o Leading and Educating Customers, and, Customer-Focused Innovation (77-80)
o Rediscovering the Higher Purpose of Capital (99-100)
o Businesses as Citizens (125-130)
o Whole Foods Market and the Environment (143-146)
o Competitors [Viewed as Stakeholders] (154-155)
o Types of Intelligence, Servant Leadership, and Integrity: The Synthesis of the Virtues (184-188)
o Qualities of Conscious Cultures: TACTILE (218-225)
o Starting a Conscious Business, Transforming to a Conscious Business, and Reinventing HCL (251-261)
o [Mackey and Sisodia's] Shared Dream (266-267)
o Liberating Our Heroic Spirit (270-271)
o Natural Capitalism (291-292)

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope of material that John Mackey Raj Sisodia provide in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how the mastery of specific skills and techniques can prepare them to help liberate "the heroic spirit of business," principled-driven capitalism, at a time when it is most needed in what has become a global marketplace.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 16 July 2013
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Best business book I've read, and I've read a lot of them. If all businesses were run with the principles in this book the failure rate in business would go way down and the world would be a better place. I know that makes it sound like anything but.a practical guide to business management, but that's the point. A well run business makes life better for every one it touches. And this book is not written by some idealistic academic, it's written by an extremely successful entrepreneur and CEO. Read it. You'll be glad you did.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Lack of empirical evidence beyond Whole Foods experience, 21 Aug 2013
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Relatively shallow analysis of an argued sustainable form of capitalism - with relatively heavy reliance on experiences at Whole Foods
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5.0 out of 5 stars A transformational business book., 23 April 2013
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The research and perspective on capitalism included in this book is revolionary, timely, and exicting.
To spread the knowledge and practice of conscious capitalism can only do good, for entrepreneurs, organizations, and society.
This is the next level of business.
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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by Raj Sisodia (Audio CD - 30 April 2014)
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