This week we caught up with Head of Business Programmes for Initiatives of Change (IofC), Mike Smith to find out more about his latest book Great Company. The book is a selection of stories shared at IofC’s annual ‘Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy’ (TIGE) conference and elsewhere.
Every summer, IofC brings together business leaders and change-makers from around the globe to take part in a week-long conference in the stunning Swiss Alpine village, Caux. Visitors to the conference speak fondly of their involvement with TIGE, giving excellent feedback to the organisers. One participant said, “What we have here is contribution, inspiration and vision – a great model to create.” TIGE is a conference that goes deeper than a conference and enables its participants to speak openly and honestly about their personal experiences in the corporate world.
TIGE has been running for nine years and Mike explained that having worked with many of the speakers and participants in Caux over the years, the inspiration for writing the book was always there:
“We had such a mass of stories to tell and my conviction as a journalist is to tell the story - so that’s what I did”.
Interested to find out more about the process of writing a book, we asked Mike about the timescale behind the creation of . He shared that it came together a whole lot quicker than he had imagined and explained, “The first story is of Lawrence Bloom and is all about personal transformation; leading to organisational change; leading to global change. After that, everything else just fell into place.”
Asked about the difficulties in writing a book, he said, “I think the big challenge is always the last five percent. It's getting it absolutely right.” He went on to explain that attention to detail is critical with any kind of writing. Mike advised aspiring young writers to "do their homework", suggesting that “they’ll need to be clear on the facts and the facts behind the facts”.
Though there is such a wide variety of stories from ranging viewpoints within this book, there are also some very clear themes that standout. One of the key messages that Mike aimed to convey was that contribution is more important than acquisition: “Those in the world of big business who are solely driven by bottom line thinking are the dinosaurs, the wreckers; and those who are driven by the social impacts are the builders.” Many of the real life anecdotes within reinforce this message.
Furthermore, Mike also aimed to demonstrate the importance of moral values to young people. He spoke about the ‘tipping point’ that our economy is moving towards and emphasised the importance of ‘conscience based decision making’. Mike stated that there is a great deal of decision making within the corporate world that is done without any sense of conscience; which is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Many of the stories within this book show real examples of business men and women who were absolutely committed to doing the right thing and who acted with a conscience. These individuals all shared a sense of moral values in their working lives, and it is those values that Mike hopes to instil in our next generation of entrepreneurs through this book.
" There is a whole new paradigm about the social contribution to entrepreneurship and what part it plays in the world."