The Moral Matrix and 2017

Jonathan Haidt in this 2008 talk explores the constraints and tensions in the moral psychology of left and right. He uses the context of the American political system and discusses primary moral principles, which for us in the UK, can be seen as a proxy equating to Labour and Conservative ideologies. Given the tensions within the Labour Party at present, given the divisions created by the referendum on Europe last year, there is a merit in revisiting these earlier Haidt arguments, touching as he does on freedom, rights, power and dissent. You can see the full TED talk from Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, below… Source: In the talk, leavened with an easy humour, it is easy to see identifiable Labour Party sterotypes, as well as those of the Tory persuasion. The left enjoy open-ness, change and commitment to the future well-being of others. Those of the right, in this model, cleave more strongly to notions of order, and acceptance of the suffering of some, to achieve their world vision. Haidt’s arguments about the five principal moral values that determine our political allegiance do bear subtler fruit after reflection. However, there is a more complex truth illustrated at play within and relevant to the UK Left, I would argue. There are certainly those of the left who are adherents of open-ness, change and collaborative development. The countervailing position, arguably, is reflected in the matter of the Labour…

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BHS – the Parliamentary Report

If you are in business, this BHS Parliamentary Report makes for a very depressing read. It combines a narrative of weak governance and the exercise of singular personal influence that is breathtaking. The Committee make some sweeping assertions, however, about the nature of ‘business’ in the UK, which to this reader, do not perhaps reflect the true state of a wider ‘moral’ commercial landscape extant in the presently configured UK. It gives little regard, I would argue, for the good work and innovative governance practice delivered by the social business market, the ethical investment marketplace and the community endeavour or social enterprise sectors. In the UK good practice abounds, but it was not prowling the corridors of BHS at the appropriate time nor, allegedly, had the fearless support of a company management team that were vigorous and rigorous in pursuit of  customer care, employee development and growth and tilted all energy towards a cohort of pensioners, upon whose expertise and life work in the company, these missed opportunities were nurtured through time. ‘We chose to investigate BHS because it encapsulated many of our ongoing concerns about the regulatory and cultural framework in which business operates, including the ethics of business behaviour, the governance of private companies, the balance between risk and reward, mergers and acquisitions practices, the governance and regulation of workplace pension schemes, and the sustainability of defined benefit pensions…’ Source: First Report of the Work and Pensions Committee and Fourth Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee…

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Capital and social good at scale

A colleague recently sent us a link to the short film below, about the entrepreneur Manoj Bhargarva, with much thanks to Joby for an interesting and inspiring example of the deployment of social good. Manoj Bhargarva has used traditional manufacturing skills and work flows, coupled to a very good first principle idea, to scale up production to generate cash. This money is then used, as can be seen in the film, to undertake significant projects that create socially useful outcomes. Our conversation that flowed from this was about capturing the energy of volunteers and the social economy to generate social good, in an old-fashioned activist way, but which is coupled to community benefit where cash is a tangential outcome only. Interestingly, you can see in the 80,000 Hours movement, how the next generation of UK political and business elites are becoming motivated by notions of ‘earning to give’. Generate cash and then give it to good causes, as in the Bhargava model. What if there was a new model of activism for social good, where the thing you scale is the activism itself? We have enjoyed seeing the growing support of the social economy from MP’s such as Chi Onwurah and Tristam Hunt. So we know there is a groundswell of activisim that might support a revolution in political party delivery based on the common good. Tristram Hunt MP made a speech in Walthamstow in November 2014 that nicely encapsulates a range of divisive issues, created by privilege, unequal access…

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