Definitions of a Conscious Business


Most of the definitions of conscious business take a starting point in values. They also take their starting point in the specific values of “social responsibility” and “business ethics”, and often also the Green movement. This then makes use of “conscious” as seeing social responsibility as a kind of higher form of consciousness. The greener, nicer and kinder we are, the more conscious we are. It is all well intentioned as consciousness then can be a kind of antidote to business greed, corruption and social irresponsibility.

So, you’ll find almost everyone in the field of conscious business aligning their definitions to a socio-spiritual view of the world, a world in which goodness is there to be revealed in more conscious awareness and behaviour.

The Conscious Business Institute defines Conscious Business here:

“Conscious Business is about people who are aware of the impact their habits and actions have on their organization and their environment. Conscious Businesses are run by people”

And here:

“Conscious Businesses require authentic leaders that do not exercise dominance and control to reach a goal, but who are of service to the business, its people, its customers and the community. Leaders, who inspire with inner strength, clarity and direction, and who provide an environment for personal and organizational growth.”

There’s a benevolence and a goodness at the heart of the definition.

SeeStep (a group of business consultants in this field) offer this definition:

“Our definition is that Conscious Business is one that is:

  • highly profitable but has more than just financial goals;
  • delivering value to a wide set of stakeholders;
  • providing a safe place for human development and growth;
  • where all involved have the power to influence outcomes;
  • where leadership is distributed;
  • where transparency, communication and awareness are paramount.”

There is a broader definition offered here that includes “power to influence”, “transparency” and “awareness”.

This comes closer to my own definition that consciousness in business is similar to individual human consciousness and contains elements such as:

– the ability to sense – internally and externally, in real time

– a transparency that optimises clarity and transparency

– an ability to reflect on action and learn

But even the SeeStep definition blends this with the usual “green” and “goodness” values.

Similarly, here is Axalient’s largely benevolent definition that focuses on conscious business leaders:

“Conscious leaders create an inspiring environment for employees to blossom as professionals and as human beings, enabling them to contribute their best, building trust and eliciting genuine engagement.

At the heart of a conscious organization, people:
Take responsibility for their lives
Don’t compromise human values for material success
Speak their truth with honesty and respect
Listen to others with humility
Resolve disagreements attending to all concerns
Honor commitments impeccably
Accept their emotions and express them constructively”

Here, a consciousness business leader is anything from someone whokeeps their promises, is honest, truthful and how keep their promises.

Many definitions of conscious business seem to fold in “conscience” and “conscientious”.

Fred Kofman, quotes Nathaniel Branded with a broad view of consciousness that goes beyond this “good and kind” definition used by so many:

“Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive. It is the ability to look at  the world through fresh eyes. It is intelligence taking joy in its own function. Living consciously is seeking to be aware of everything that bears on our interests, actions, values, purposes and goals. It is the willingness to confront facts, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the desire to discover our mistakes and correct them… It is the quest to keep expanding our awareness and understanding,  both of the world external to self and of the world within. 

Nathaniel Branden”

This, for me, forms a much clearer, and, dare I suggest, a more conscious foundation to a definition of conscious business? What do you think?

It#s more value neutral in terms of pre-loading the definition with green and ethical baggage as an input. It allows more scope for exploring the notion that responsibility in community is more likely to arise out of a such a lived definition anyway. The definition to me feels itself to be more sober, yet still containing a kind of warmth that would allow business to reflect in an aware way on their practices.

Fred Kofman himself picks this theme up in his book about Conscious Business:

“Consciousness is the ability to experience reality, to be aware of our inner and outer worlds. It allows us to adapt to our environment and act to promote our lives. All living beings possess consciousness, but human beings have a unique kind. Unlike plants and other animals, we can think and act beyond instinctual drives and conditioning. We can be autonomous (from the Greek, “self-governing”). While this autonomy is a possibility, it is not a given. We must develop it through conscious choices.To be conscious means to be awake, mindful. To live consciously means to be open to perceiving the world around and within us, to understand our circumstances, and to decide how to respond to them in ways that honor our needs, values, and goals. To be unconscious is to be asleep, mindless. To live unconsciously means to be driven by instincts and habitual patterns.”

Kofman suggests businesses can become more awake, more autonomous, more aware of habits and patterns, more environmentally adaptive.

More to come.

Visit our Conscious Business Realm

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