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Cover-Forbes-April-2012

by Jennie S. Bev

Executives need a radical management style and only those who know how to master this style will be able to survive in the future. What is a radical management style? While profits must be nurtured for the short-term existence, a radical manager must have long-term objectives taken from an “eagle” viewpoint on future sustainability. Forest management, for instance, should be done with awareness of how it affects the larger environment and surrounding communities. Thus long-term sustainability becomes a critical goal for the radical manager.

It isn’t merely an empty phrase. Rather, it is the ultimate underlying principle by which an organization bases its production, services and management. It is a critical issue in a world with increased competition for dwindling resources and heightened awareness of environmental and sustainability issues. A radical management style fits the conditions of Indonesia. With its growth over 6%, the country is filled with major opportunities but also long-term sustainability challenges. In such an environment, executives and entrepreneurs must be willing to take bold steps not small, safe and conventional ones.

Radical managers should be aware of the impacts of a certain product or service from the smallest to the largest circle of influence. For example, an Indonesian mining company should examine how its activities impact neighboring villages such as their employment and health standards. It is the responsibility of a radical manager to consider the effect of the company’s activities on various stakeholders along with financial gains.

One expression of the radical management can be found in the standards set up by Social Accountability International (SAI), created in 1996 to address humanitarian standards promulgated by ILO and UN charters. In Indonesia, for instance, only four companies have passed the rigorous auditing processes that entitles them to hold SA8000 certification, which provides a globally-recognized standard for radical management. 

Radical managers should look for “radical” investment opportunities and “radical” investors who share their values. Thus, managers should look for investments providing both financial returns and social and environmental returns. The notion of radical management for the benefit of humanity is in alignment with Harvard economist Umair Haque's notion of a new capitalism manifesto.

Haque traces his manifesto’s roots back to Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia, which means happiness or welfare. The principles of Adam Smith's economics is no longer applicable and costing too much in eroding our collective long-term sustainability. It's time for managers to get radical to ensure the planet’s future. The best business strategy becomes one that creates and adds value over the long-term.[]

Forbes Indonesia, April 2012

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