Posted by Thursday, May 25th, 2017 @ 2:08 am


We’ve all heard the familiar saying, “timing is everything.” And that expression rings true in the rise of the Conscious Capitalism movement over the past decade or so.

When evaluating today’s workforce, we can see a much greater emphasis being placed on the value of an organization’s people. Believing in people creates happiness and facilitates productivity. Since so many people now prioritize their own values in all aspects of life, it’s important for companies to understand their value systems and/or purposes. After all, the younger members of the workforce might not want to work in a place that is either blind to, or worse yet, out of alignment with their values.

Personal and individual values also have surfaced as a major disruptor to the economic equation over the last generation. The old way of selling revolved around making a product, or providing a service and the consumer’s subsequent decision to buy it. The decision to buy largely rested on whether it returned the most value based on dollars spent. Today, many consumers make completely different buying decisions. Take Whole Foods as a prime example. Whole Pay Check? We know all the jokes, right?

Nowadays, many people will pay more money for goods and services because they believe in the experience and the “why.” As in the case of Whole Foods, they believe in the superior quality food they’re getting, from producer/grower all the way to the aisles of the store. They believe in organic vegetables and humanely treated animals and fair wages – the reasons “why” Whole Foods exists. Consumers now seem willing to pay more money to be a part of something that’s aligned with their values.

The move towards Conscious Capitalism did not occur overnight – it evolved. After all, each generation of workers experiences the swing of the pendulum around what’s most important to that generation based on cause and effect.

With new variables in the workplace and economic equation comes a big question – how long will it last? How far will people go to financially support others who share their own values? And how far will companies/organizations go to identify their values and purposes to win in a new economic era? Only time will tell.

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Our Path To Conscious Capitalism

Posted by Monday, February 6th, 2017 @ 6:06 pm

Our Path to Conscious Capitalism

The four founders of Abrasive Technology met when they worked together at a large billion-dollar company. When they didn’t feel their talents were being utilized, and were frustrated by inefficient processes and bureaucracy, they left that organization. They simply wanted to be engineers who could create great things and trusted others would want to do the same. While the principles were not rooted in Conscious Capitalism back when Abrasive Technology started in 1971 – things have certainly evolved – today’s mindset really got its formal beginning in 1996-97. That’s when Abrasive Technology started its movement toward a flat organization. In our global organization (nine sites around the world), we have no  managers, no bosses – nothing – and haven’t for 16 years.

In 1996, we began working with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in an effort to modify our organizational structure with the goal to empower people. Even within the great CCL leadership transformation think tank, we didn’t find a group of people in the organization at that time who said, “Oh yeah, we get this. We know what you want to do.” When we started on this more intentional journey that would include culture and people and alignment of incentives, we largely felt “out there” on our own.

We gave CCL our purpose (in its most simplistic form): to make people’s lives better. We now encapsulate that idea using the phrase “shaping the world around us.” This means that a person could use a product made by our diamond grinding wheels in almost every facet of life, every day. We’re literally shaping the products and the things around you. Additionally, with our values and our behaviors and the way that we engage with people and our culture, we shape our world, our individual world, our team world and our collective world by how we interact with each other. We do so intentionally. And so again, we believe we shape the world around us.
Conscious Capitalism works very well with a flat organization based on empowered associates and mutual trust. I find it’s a tribe of people who believe Conscious Capitalism is a language – a way to communicate how to put people and doing the right thing first, and seeing profit as a manifestation of those efforts. That’s the fundamental principle of Conscious Capitalism, and the major difference between it and strictly profit-seeking organizations.

Conscious Capitalism is a collective who are seeking to do business in a more pure and authentic way. But this isn’t a concept where you can say, “I’m a Conscious Capitalist and this is all I’m going to go follow.” A movement of the heart isn’t really like that. When you have people involved and emotions and dynamic atmospheres, applying a one-size-fits-all conscious capitalism concept doesn’t work. I don‘t feel that is what Conscious Capitalism ascribes to be. I find it’s a place where people can come and share ideas and do work in a different way than the majority of the businesses in the world.

Conscious Capitalism is a subset of this more human movement that we’re seeing in the world. Everything in the world is becoming more authentic. In some specific circumstances I see some automation actually going away – people want to talk to human beings and interact with each other. Technology enables us to act in ways with other humans, in ways that we haven’t been able to before. In the past, people were thought of as resources. They were just another piece of equipment which enabled the company to create profit. What we’ve learned with self-actualization and our ability to be more self-aware, intentional and conscious, is that we are all individuals. And that being individual is a critical thing. The business that ignores a person as a complete person is only going to get part of their story and engagement.

In some regards, in the most macro scale, self-awareness and self-actualization are luxuries that have been bestowed upon us by the success of the Baby Boomers. The boomers and previous generations didn’t have the luxury of asking: “What are my values and what do I really want?”
These notions around “Who am I as a human and what does a company want to be from a purpose based thing?” are new and largely possible due to the successes that have been created by previous generations. For that we are most grateful.

Daryl Peterman
CEO, Abrasive Technology

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Committing to Conscious Capitalism at Abrasive Technology

Posted by Monday, January 9th, 2017 @ 5:51 pm

concapAfter attending the 2016 CEO Summit in Austin, Texas, I remain a committed believer in conscious capitalism, which exists to elevate humanity. As a conscious capitalist, we make intentional decisions to do the right thing for our associates and anyone who touches Abrasive Technology. That is the first priority. And profit is the manifestation of doing the right thing. Not the other way around: that’s really the founding principle of a conscious capitalistic business.

It’s a red pill/blue pill thing. If you eat the red pill, you really have to believe people are inherently good. If a business creates an environment that is safe and trusting, and is dedicated to the best of its people and those around it – while remaining authentic and transparent – then profit would be the manifestation of that.

The blue pill works the other way – looking at spreadsheets, dollars, numbers and profit first. When that’s the case, people do everything at all costs to make sure the bottom line looks strong, and perhaps be good to people along the way. The two approaches are fundamentally different beliefs.

How to proceed must come from the leaders of the organization. While there are a lot of people who say they believe in their people or stakeholders, or want to do the right thing, their actions and business methodology revolve around costs and expenses and the bottom line of profits margins. Anytime you hear leaders talk about “people first” and you see “profits first,” you know those folks are not completely aligned with a more conscious mindset that comes from the inside.

Believing in conscious capitalism involves trust: it’s one of those things where you wake up in the morning and make a decision about who we’re going to be today.

I believe people are inherently good. People are born good, babies are good, they’re smiling and curious, for example. There’s a lot of data that shows children are far more curious, inventive and creative than adults. One of the primary reasons for this is as adults gain experience, they create walls and put on armor to protect themselves. If I can create an organization with an environment where people can be their best selves because they feel safe and trusted, they’ll develop their work skills and their skills as a human being. It’s incredible what people can accomplish. If you need proof of that, look around us every day. There hasn’t been a major problem in the world that people haven’t been able to solve when they work together and they collaborate to do great things. The proof is in the wonder of the world around us.

Daryl Peterman
CEO, Abrasive Technology

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