Companies that Mimic Life
Leaders of the Emerging Corporate Renaissance
Industrial capitalism is broken. The signs, which transcend national ideologies, are everywhere: climate change; ecological overshoot; financial exhaustion; fraying social safety nets; corporate fraud; government deceit; civic unrest; terrorism; and war. But there is hope. This book tells how transformation is taking root in the corporate world – the last place many of us would look for solutions.
The book tells the stories of seven exceptional companies. Their shared secret is a new mental model of the firm that is the virtual opposite of industrial capitalism. Each company, if not already a household name, is a significant player within their industry and, crucially, has outperformed their competitors. Lessons can be learned.
It works like this. Instead of modeling themselves on the assumed efficiency of machines – a thought process that emerged during the industrial age – these firms model themselves on living systems. Firms with open, ethical, inclusive traditions – where employees have a voice and a stake in what happens – have a distinct advantage over traditionally managed companies where most decisions are made at the top.
Understanding that everything of value ultimately arises from life, they place a higher value on living assets (people and Nature) than they do on non-living capital assets. The energy they invest in stewarding those assets – a practice described in the book as living asset stewardship (LAS) – is transformative.
While intuitively sensible, the research summarized in Companies that Mimic Life provides the empirical evidence needed to support his thesis that working in harmony with Nature and society is not only necessary for the future of life on earth, but is also the most profitable way forward. Not only is this reassuring, it also offers a clear direction for companies who know their success is dependent on the quality of the relationships with their customers, the communities they serve and the environment.
Jay Bragdon has done a great service with this wonderful book, which turns a well-focused microscope onto some of the world’s most inspiring stories of corporate sustainability transformation.
Bravo to Jay Bragdon for showing that creative, connected approaches to business produce MORE substance and success, not less! For those of us who share a rooting in traditional investing, it is both inspiring and essential to see how mimicking life can amplify prosperity in every dimension. The tangible case studies in this book will inspire greater success in investing, business, and life.
The 20th century ‘organisation-as-machine’ metaphor is giving way to the 21st century ‘organisation-as-living-system’ metaphor. And this shift is not just metaphoric but metamorphic, affecting all aspects of our enterprising futures: from care provision to car manufacturing, from board-room behaviour to our everyday conversations and creative undertakings. Gone with the winds of change is the out-dated logic of yesterday (with its control-based top-down risk-averse myopic bureaucracies), and with it organisational development, leadership and further education is set to undergo radical change. The implications are huge. The organisations that seize the breadth and depth of this shift in logic will be tomorrow’s success stories, those that don’t will be yesterday’s news.
Companies that Mimic Life goes right to the heart of the matter by providing much needed strategic insight supported by hard financial performance data and detailed case studies of seven organisations embracing the logic of living systems. Experienced and respected investment adviser Jay Bragdon examines what makes for success: an organisation’s ability to learn from living systems, in-so-doing awakening a deeper human consciousness that galvanises our organisations towards more purposeful, flourishing futures in harmony with Life. I cannot recommend this timely and important work highly enough for those of us interested in the future of business.
This is one of the world’s most important books on leadership and corporate consciousness. The very important work which Jay Bragdon has carried out for many years is part of the new corporate paradigm. It is the leadership answer to the Anthropocene. It is part of the Corporate Renaissance.
In Companies That Mimic Life, Jay Bragdon looks through “systems” lenses at models of companies creating shared values for both companies and the society.
While many scholars and practitioners enthusiastically speak about the importance of capacities of organization and people, it is rare to see evidence in a systematic way. With 20 years of the robust study, Jay illustrates how companies that pursue harmony among the society, the nature and people within organization outperform companies narrowly focused on financial results and shareholders’ interests. While many managers are at dilemma of choosing either single (financial) bottom line or triple bottom lines, Jay’s analysis suggests that the triple bottom lines in the long run is far better.
Yet, how do these companies making triple bottom lines operate? His new book looks at the seven companies which he has chosen as exemplary, and digs into the principles, process and structures of these organizations. These practices are truly inspirational, and are something today’s managers could learn from in this complex and vulnerable world.
As Jay argues, if one ever wants to change today’s troubled capitalism, the vision and practice of Living Asset Steward is a keystone of how companies and capitalism renew themselves.
Companies that Mimic Life is a good read and, more importantly, takes readers along a path of deeper and deeper understanding as to why some companies do much better than others. He describes how doing well requires a much deeper transformation than most companies have been willing to undergo. The businesses he profiles have stepped into specific innovations that reward the people, the balance sheet, and shareholder returns. Bragdon cogently describes the innovations, and he measures the pay-off. Read this book. You’ll get both inspiration and data.
1. Changing Paradigms
2. The Power of Networks
3. Management by Means
4. Conservation of Resources
6. Sense of Purpose
8. Towards Industrial Symbiosis
9. The Emerging Corporate Renaissance
Appendix 1. The Global LAMP Index®
Appendix 2. Global LAMP Index® Returns
Appendix 3. Credit Ratings of LAMP Companies
JOSEPH H. (JAY) BRAGDON is a pioneer in the field of corporate stewardship. He co-authored the first empirical study on the linkages between stewardship and profitability in 1972.