A Vision of Creative Enterprise
"Companies identify best practices, particularly those of market leaders, and try to implement them. Such benchmarking has a role to play in business, but . . . organizations become winners by spotting big opportunities and inventing next practices . . .”C.K. Prahalad
Former Distinguished University Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan; author, Competing for the Future
At Meridian the term creative enterprise is used to embrace pioneering actions, or next practices, that enable enterprises of many forms to blend financial viability with transformative innovation.
Creative enterprise takes place in domains of action within which transformative change can be catalyzed to more effectively address critical needs of our time. Needs such as ecological responsibility, community building, right livelihood, personal empowerment, and business ethics. Domains of action include:
- Cultural and social innovation
- Creative inquiry practices
- Creative governance and leadership practices
- Entrepreneurial vision and action
- Personal meaning and human purpose
Creative enterprise shows up as a complex mosaic of actions. Like any creative process it is constantly evolving. It takes place in companies large and small, in for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations as we work together to create a more just and sustainable future. No single entity represents a perfect example of creative enterprise, but strands of creative enterprise show up within organizations throughout the economy.
Creative enterprise is present at companies like Alvarado Street Bakery with its blend of strong market share, financial stability, employee ownership, living wages, and wholesome breads. It’s evident at REI in its cooperative ownership structure and encouragement of life/work balance. Google practices creative enterprise by allowing engineers to spend 20% of their time on projects they are passionate about.
Creative enterprise is alive and well at Guayaki, a company founded with the goal of protecting and restoring the South American rainforests while empowering the native people. It’s also woven into ecologically generative developments like Sonoma Mountain Village, at a national franchise like Whole Foods which brings organic foods to a nearly mainstream market and at Organic Valley, a cooperative that serves farmers and their customers particularly well.
It is demonstrated in non-profit arts organizations like Community MusicWorks, which located a rehearsal space for their ensemble in a musically underserved urban community, piped the music into the streets, and invited young people free of charge into the transforming world of making music.
Service organizations like the Natural Step, Bioneers, Wiser Earth, the TED conference, Ashoka, Rocky Mountain Institute, and Idealist.org demonstrate creative enterprise as they help infuse us and our culture with the spirit of transformative innovation.
These examples and many others like them comprise a rapidly expanding universe of organizations and actions which embody creative enterprise. At countless levels of the emerging economy they are transforming business “as usual” into forms of commerce better meeting the needs of the whole person, our society, and our planet.