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HBR/McKinsey M-Prize: Long-Term Capitalism Challenge

It’s time to radically revise the deeply-etched beliefs about what business is for, whose interests it serves, and how it creates value.
Start
Finish
2/24/2012
Challenge Begins
6/5/2012
Final Round Deadline

Winners announced!

How do we renew the soul of capitalism and fundamentally reimagine it for a new age and a new set of challenges? That was the question we put to a global community of hackers and innovators in the Long-Term Capitalism Challenge. We were looking for depth, originality, clarity, and the ability to inspire and instruct in equal measure. We found those qualities in a remarkable number of the entries—and were hard pressed to narrow those down to ten winners. Here they are:

 


 

All the finalists

Re-imagining capitalism for a new age and a new set of challenges is a sweeping undertaking. So it’s not surprising that we received a striking diversity of entries. In just two-and-a-half months, we received some 147 entries from leaders, thinkers, and innovators of all stripes, from every corner of the planet. Here are the twenty-four finalists:

 

It’s time to radically revise the deeply-etched beliefs about what business is for, whose interests it serves, and how it creates value. We need a new form of capitalism for the 21st century—one dedicated to the promotion of greater well-being rather than the single-minded pursuit of growth and profits; one that doesn’t sacrifice the future for the near term; one with an appropriate regard for every stakeholder; and one that holds leaders accountable for all of the consequences of their actions. In other words, we need a capitalism that is profoundly principled, fundamentally patient, and socially accountable.

This isn’t a new challenge, but it’s more urgent than ever—not just as an effort to escape reform and regulation from the outside, but to restore the public trust, to repair the moral fabric of the system, and to unleash the innovation required to tackle the world’s most pressing and important challenges.

The Long-Term Capitalism Challenge seeks to accelerate the shift toward a more principled, patient, and social accountable capitalism—one that’s truly fit for the long term. Specifically, we’re looking for Stories(real-world case studies) and Hacks (boldly original ideas) that offer up the most progressive practices and disruptive ideas that tackle the challenge of making our organizations more:

PRINCIPLED 
Capitalism degenerates into narrow self-interest without a strong ethical foundation.

  • How do we focus the entire organization on a higher purpose and embed such virtues as generosity and selflessness into everyday interactions, evaluations, and reward systems?
  • How do we measure the ethical or moral climate of a company, and what is the dashboard?
  • What does it mean for individuals at all levels to act as wise stewards of organizational values, resources, and stakeholder well-being?
  • What kind of a forum or process could we create that would allow individuals to freely share and discuss ethical dilemmas?
  • In what ways might extreme transparency preserve and promote the highest purpose of the organization?

PATIENT 
Vision and perseverance are critical to value creation—and highly vulnerable to short-termism.

  • How do we stretch management timeframes and perspectives?
  • What does it mean to articulate and instill a vision compelling enough to inspire sacrifice, stimulate innovation, and hedge against expediency?
  • How might we rebalance compensation and measurement systems to provide incentives for long-term value creation along with short-term performance?
  • What tactics or capabilities might we develop to earn some slack from investors?
  • What kind of incentives and measurement systems could we devise to encourage internal entrepreneurs and nurture a varied portfolio of opportunities?

SOCIAL
Capitalism cannot operate in a social vacuum and profits and shareholder return can no longer be the only measures of a company’s value-added.

  • How do we eradicate the pervasive zero-sum mentality in business and embed the positive-sum view of stakeholder interdependence into operations at every level?
  • How do we build the consideration of social return into every conversation and every decision at every level in the organization?
  • How could we embed social goals into an organization’s innovation agenda and processes? In other words, how might we encourage not just social responsibility, but social entrepreneurship?
  • What kind of measurement and reward systems would give significant weight to social impact created by individuals and the wider organization?

Please join us in this important effort. Share your story, submit a hack, read the entries and M-Prize blog to get inspired, and add your voice to the MIX.

Submissions may draw on secondary source materials but should be based primarily on first-hand experience or an original idea. In every case, be sure to credit all those who contributed to your story or hack and provide citations to external reference material.

The Long-Term Capitalism Challenge will unfold in two stages: a preliminary submission phase (ending May 11, 2012) and a final round for several finalists or finalist teams (ending June 1, 2012).

All entries will be judged by our panel of leading management thinkers and progressive practitioners, including:
Dov Seidman, founder and CEO, LRN and author, HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything
Chris Meyer, founder, Monitor Talent and author, Standing On the Sun: How the Explosion of Capitalism Abroad Will Change Business Everywhere
Tom Kiely, Director of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, McKinsey & Company
Eric Hellweg, Editorial Director, Harvard Business Review

Winners will receive significant recognition as management innovators on the MIX, Harvard Business Review and HBR.org, the McKinsey Quarterly and McKinseyQuarterly.com. Winners will also earn the chance to appear at the MIX Mashup on June 19, 2012 in San Francisco. Learn more about the event here.

rpaul-herman's picture
When companies create quantifiable value for society as well as shareholders, those firms can be more profitable and become the foundation of a stronger portfolio.
By R.Paul Herman on May 11, 2012
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DaviPlata is the first massive e-money platform in Latin America, and one of the first in the world, which was conceived initially as a solution to reach the bottom of the pyramid, but soon became the
thane-thomson's picture
Robert Pirsig’s philosophy, woven into “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and its sequel “Lila”, could have profound effects on business and society, if understood and implemented correctly.
By Thane Thomson on March 2, 2012
stephen-remedios's picture
By empowering women in Rural areas and enabling them to earn a livelihood, Project Shakti at Hindustan Unilever is a heart-warming story about doing well by doing good.

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