Leadership
If Humanity Were a Corporation ...

... what would it take to make Sustainability its Brand and the Sufficiency Economy its Value?

While at this moment, every social unit recognises that we all need to take action NOW, the most challenging question is always: HOW? What should be — would be — the best solution to enable us to achieve sustainability? So let’s think big and try a little thought experiment: What if humanity were a corporation — what would it take to make sustainability its brand? How can we create value that will set the framework to build a sustainable brand?

Let’s start with the first inquiry. Why do we need to talk about humanity instead of profit? This question is rather easy to answer: We — the business — cannot survive alone. The triple bottom line is what business must aim for in order to sustain itself as a valuable asset for the world. No need to speak further or convince.

Now let’s examine the concept of the sufficiency economy — the wisdom of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The underlining concept of the sufficiency economy is “Moderation.” Moderation is a collective mindset/mindfulness in striving for genuine Optimality rather than exploitation/excess. Moderation is not the paucity of ambition, but richness in foresight. Humanity Inc.**’s corporate re-branding literature would probably read:

“From relatively humble evolutionary beginnings, humanity’s meteoric rise to ascendency has by and large been presupposed on our inexhaustible craving for more, moderated only by the natural-technological limit of each era — sustainability wasn’t all that critical when human societies weren’t so technologically driven and world population was on par with most other mammalian species. But now, Moderation has to come from within, hence it is embedded into every decision process and production/consumption activity that Humanity Inc. undertakes.”

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This implies that “moderation” is the Brand Positioning of Humanity Inc. In order for Humanity Inc. to achieve its ultimate goal — a balanced equality of mankind — being ‘moderate’ must be at the center of all activities. Making enough progress that people will live happily while not take advantage of others, damage the environment, or see the loss of opportunities in the future.

How can we demonstrate this brand positioning? The second hallmark of Humanity Inc. is Reasonableness, a collective mindset/mindfulness to operate on the basis of Causality, i.e. the Causal Nexus whereby each problem is recognised to be but an effect of some causes, whereby each solution is itself a cause of other effects. In that same vein:

“It’s best said that Humanity Inc. doesn’t so much solve a problem as it extinguishes the problem-enabling factors — much like how firefighters don’t really put out the flames but instead eliminate heat, oxygen and/or fuel from the mix.”

The third hallmark of Humanity Inc. is Prudence, the collective mindset/mindfulness to fortify oneself with Immunity to negative shocks and Resilience to unforeseen threats. The thinking behind immunity-building perhaps draws analogy from medical immunity-boosting/vaccination programmes; the notion of built-in resilience is akin to the quality innovation in 1970s Japan (whereby quality is considered an input to the manufacturing process, rather than simply an outcome). Prudence prepares for when conventional risk management/mitigation fails to capture/contain threat scenarios. Humanity Inc.’s corporate re-branding literature might also allude to the following:

“Hitherto pockets of humanity, especially agrarian-based economies, could sustainably thrive for millennia, only to completely lose the plot within a few decades of coming into contact with ‘modernity’. In a sense, the critical balance between human aspirations and natural resources, evolved over said millennia, was never ‘immunised/inoculated’ against the onslaught of modern consumerism-materialism-commercialism*.”*

As befitting any corporate (re)branding exercise, it’s imperative that one draws from the spiritual roots, the DNA, of the enterprise itself. Now, the real Humanity Inc., we have to believe, already possesses the Moderation-Reasonableness-Prudence genes in its DNA. In addition to DNA, King Bhumibol Aduyadej also suggests that there are two governance conditions that are integral to the (re) branding of Humanity Inc. — Knowledge and Virtue. These two conditions act as external factors required to make decisions that align the internal and external values of the brand building. With this DNA, we believe that Humanity Inc. will become a corporation that can create a betterment for its stakeholders. We also believe that the model of this Humanity Inc. can be adapted to any enterprise or organization that want to become a sustainable brand.

The Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation, in its vision-mission to serve as the network-platform for knowledge, coordination, and promotion of sustainable development, strives to disseminate the right understanding and practice of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy — which in effect encapsulates and promulgates the said sustainability principles. Sharing knowledge, exchange practices, and co-creating the future are our main activities both in Thailand and around the world. There is no one single solution that fits all, and we welcome any opportunity to work together with all kinds of organizations to create a better Humanity Inc. — be it a personal brand, product brand or corporate brand, we all can become sustainable brands for a better world.

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