The Tellus Institute (www.tellusinstitute.org) has put out a couple of papers on Corporate Design and Corporate Redesign. It's well worth a look at the Institute's website, not least because it offers six principles for corporate design aimed at altering the 'genetics' of the contemporary corporation to help meet the great societal challenges of the twenty-first century. The six principles are:
1. The purpose of the corporation is to harness private interests to serve the public interest.
2. Corporations shall accrue fair returns for shareholders, but not at the expense of the legitimate interests of other stakeholders.
3. Corporations shall operate sustainably, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
4. Corporations shall distribute their wealth equitably among those who contribute to its creation.
5. Corporations shall be governed in a manner that is participatory, transparent, ethical, and accountable.
6. Corporations shall not infringe on the right of natural persons to govern themselves, nor infringe on other universal human rights.
They are laudable principles. Now try engaging the various water companies in the application of these principles in their corporations. Read the article in Vanity Fair: The Rise of Big Water, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/bigwater200705?currentPage=1 or watch the movie Flow (www.flowthefilm). What are the steps between writing principles about designing organisations and actually redesigning them? Apparently it took 'a two-year multi stakeholder process', to develop the six sentences that form the principles. On that basis redesigning corporations will take us well beyond the point when there is any water on the planet. (Or is this unduly pessimistic?)