Branson’s Plan B for Business – People, Planet & Profit

Launched recently, The B Team is an initiative of founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson and his connections. It is all about providing shared value for business and communities, creating a future where ‘the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit’.

He has been joined by what is a very impressive group of industry partners and leaders, in what is a global not for profit or a company whose aim is to provide a social profit for the greater good.

‘I think there is a phenomenally deep connection between networks and goodness. I think the reason we form social networks in our lives is precisely to create and sustain all kinds of good and desirable properties’ says Branson.

To create flourishing communities locally and internationally, we need to focus on the ways people are linked together. The creativity and innovation of business is a powerful tool that can assist governments to tackle some of our most pressing of social problems. If we connect through our similarity we can all profit through our diversity.

In a ‘declaration’ on June 13, 2013 Branson together with co-founder Jochen Zeitz said ‘We launched The B Team yesterday, a global non-profit incubated by Virgin Unite that wants to deliver a new way of doing business that prioritizes people and the planet alongside profit.’

The “WE” also refers to a group of high-profile people all of whom are leaders in their field and co-founders. They are Arianna Huffington, Mo Ibrahim, Paul Polman, Ratan Tata, Guilherme Leal, Strive Masiyiwa, François-Henri Pinault, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Shari Arison, Kathy Calvin and Honorary Leaders Mary Robinson and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland.

They will join forces to address three initial Challenges: “The Future of Leadership”, “The Future Bottom Line” and “The Future of Incentives”. A main aim is to help focus business away from short-term gain and to balance the long-term benefits for both people and the planet.

British business guru Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (b1950) has founded more than 400 companies during his lifetime. He overcame all sorts of personal learning difficulties as a child, founding his first enterprise at the age of 16.

He is today renowned for his brilliance at connecting and communicating with others as well as for his extensive experience and knowledge about how social networks power and sustain our society. He constantly sets himself challenges to surmount ‘wanting to live life to the full’.

Branson understands that defining communities solely in geographic terms has major limitations for the future of humankind.

He is also aware that the latest data on the subject says that we need to develop communities in the future, based on mapping ‘social networks’ and through research and action.’ The B Team has an agenda, which includes initially canvassing the globe, listening to the community and experts, and then putting together specialized teams of the brightest most experienced advisors, partners, consultants and staff to design challenges.

They believe that eventually Plan B will create entirely new models and expectations of how business should operate in the future.

Scientists have proved there is a relationship between social networks and behavioural change. A social structure provides a way of identifying and measuring our social connectedness, improving opportunities and transforming society through changes in behaviour and attitudes, gaining economic efficiencies.

With an impressive website The B Team invites participation, people in businesses all around the world can connect to gain access to professional information that will help their own planning to help them to gear their own businesses into the future.

Open discussions about corporate culture, and the sort of challenges created as a company grows will be of benefit to many. Branson noted at the launch that ‘we all need to work together more. Businesses compete by their very nature, but they also need to collaborate and cooperate. As Mo Ibrahim said while talking about the need for transparency in business: “If we are all naked, we better look good!”

Science tells us that humans are fundamentally a social species, which should be no surprise. How we use that knowledge is the point in questions, but we can use the knowledge gleaned from research to shape our habits, take decisions and regulate our patterns of attention.

Via enlightened self-awareness, we can all have a significant influence on the social and biological conditions that underpin our actions, and therefore our lives. Branson would seem to be living proof of that concept.

The past informs the present and the future, which will be improved by humans as we freely share our thoughts, ideas and failures as we progress.

Author of The Master and His Emissary, psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist talked about the emerging science of human nature, connecting brains and behaviour in a climate of cultural learning.

He suggests that ‘the proliferation of scientific knowledge on human nature shows no sign of abating… the aim is to use ideas of change and knowledge to help us address the collective challenges we face’.

We are subject to our social brain, which is reputedly connected to everybody by six degrees. We in turn can are influenced by, and influence others by up to three degrees. We do have the ability to adapt to new challenges as we progress in life and in business.

The B Team is an aspect of 21st century enlightenment, which is about facing challenges that vary enormously in scope and scale. Climate change, enduring financial instability and demographic changes are all adaptive in nature.

Branson said “Our vision of the future is a world in which the purpose of business is to become a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit,” the declaration states.

“Our mission is to help develop a ‘Plan B’ that puts people and planet alongside profit. Plan A — where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone — is no longer acceptable.” said Branson.

We all need to face up to changing our attitudes, belief and value systems as we ourselves grow and not just rest on our laurels by continuing to coast along passively. Our words, deeds and actions must align.

Leadership is all about empowering others and we all have the potential to influence others and affect change.

Learn from failure. If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture wasn’t a success, welcome to the club! **

Mr Branson and establishment of The B Team are certainly a giant step forward and a brilliant example of innovative constructive leadership for the new age.

Businesses benefit when they improve their reputation, gaining trust and loyalty and an ability to access new ideas, products and services from the community that gives them life. Ideally this creates a positive loop that leads to more social interaction, which leads to an expansion of creative ideas, which new business can implement.

Branson believes that ‘it shouldn’t just be left to politicians and community organisations to tackle the world’s problems – businesses should help too.

Although individually lots of businesses do great things, collectively they could be far more powerful and do much more good’ he said at the launch, and ‘I have high hopes that The B Team can make a real difference’.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2013.

**Richard Branson, The Virgin Group

Ref: RSA – Transforming Behaviour Change, The Community Footprint and Connected Communities reports

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.