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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.
Challenge Begins
Final Round Deadline

M-Prize Challenge

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:

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?

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?

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, the McKinsey Quarterly and 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.

jennifer-conrad's picture
We need to develop a personal stake in our world.
By Jennifer Conrad on May 11, 2012
david-lee_1's picture
Capitalism and productivity works hand in hand.
By David Lee on May 8, 2012
alfredo-bregni's picture
Evolution eventually "provides" predators.  Who / which "exploit".
By Alfredo Bregni on March 2, 2012
juan-f-suarez's picture
Imagine talent pools (local, regional or national) focused on "on-demand skills" run as public private partnerships, where companies, governments and colleges give access to education and jobs to indi
By Juan F Suarez on March 5, 2012
brad-mckee's picture
Can ethical consumption and the capitalist model coexist? It is currently accepted that consumption is a prevalent feature of the capitalist system.
By Brad McKee on May 9, 2012
charles-henri-arnould's picture
The biggest problem of capitalism is that's not enough people are working on the capitalism's biggest problem: the lack of innovation (as counter-intuitive as it sounds).
jimmy-van-de-putte's picture
Workload (and thus needed workforce) will drop due to technology and automation, so what society are we tending to ? Will there be room for prosperity? For Capitalism ? For trade ?
justare-alman's picture
The cure for capitalism is more capitalism. Actual control system provides all-or-nothing instruments that prove to be insufficiently rough.
By Justare Alman on May 4, 2012
sudhir-chadalavada's picture
We are at a historic and momentous socioeconomic inflection point where remarkable progress and deep crisis have converged to create an uncertain scenario.
niranjan-rao's picture
Extend "first right of refusal" to customers to own the company's stock, whenever there is a need for new/ additional external investment.
By Niranjan Rao on May 10, 2012
yoni-assia_1's picture
The idea is to create a transparent value ecosystem, where organizational values (openess, innovation etc') get a numeric value (points)  that can be exchnaged between all steakholders, then simp
By Yoni Assia on March 2, 2012
niko-van-eeghen's picture
Current organizations are often geared to the financial cycles that they run. Whether these are tied to business planning, quarterly results or any other form of reporting mechanism.
By Niko van Eeghen on March 20, 2012
ganeshbe's picture
Capitalism is a Radical and Revolutionary tool of social progress.Management is truly mathematical, therefore egalitarian.Capitalism should replace dangerous and naïve amorphousness in the name of sel
By Ganesh.B.E. on April 26, 2012
martin-cawthorne-nugent's picture
In shortVirtuality is only capital intensive in its requirements for real-life server hosts and the infrastructure to provide access to the virtual world.  The businesses that invest capital in t
jeffrey-cherry's picture
Capitalism will not change if those of us providing the capital don't begin to remove financial incentives for short-term behavior.
By Jeffrey Cherry on May 10, 2012