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John Mackey's Whole Foods Vision to Reshape Capitalism

Few weeks ago we highlighted some fascinating quotes from John Mackey, CEO of the 8 Billion Dollar Retailer Whole Foods. Fast Company just published another article online. A fascinating take on his idea of what he calls "Conscious Capitalism"... Be sure to click on the link below and read the full article.

Just to be clear, John Mackey isn't Moses. "It's not like you go up to the mountaintop and God talks to you: Here is your purpose -- execute," he says.

"It is something you discover and also create." Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, is riffing on the gospel of what he calls Conscious Capitalism. It has been a brutal couple of months for Mackey, who simultaneously became both the punching bag of the progressives and the poster boy of the right wing late last summer, after writing an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that railed against a government health-care option. Liberal Whole Foods customers organized nationwide boycotts, while self-described "radical conservative" Tea Party types rallied around Mackey, calling for Whole Foods "buycotts." Now, sitting in a soulless beige conference room in Whole Foods' Austin headquarters, with Mount Bonnell looming beyond the window and two protective publicists at his side, Mackey finally starts to relax.

"You see, Conscious Capitalism is a fairly new idea, but it's going to have a huge impact," he begins, describing the philosophy he developed as he built his tiny natural-foods store into an $8 billion retail beast. "I do believe it will become the dominant paradigm of business in the 21st century." Conscious Capitalism, Mackey insists, moves corporations to refocus on purpose instead of profit. In theory, it underscores the importance of all of a company's interdependent "stakeholders": employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, community, and the environment. When all of those constituencies' interests are factored into the company's decisions and aligned, his thinking goes, all -- including, not incidentally, the bottom line -- will flourish. Read the full article on the Fast Company Website.

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posted by Justin Forman | 12.11.2009 - 7:35 AM


He bashed his competitor Wild Oats using his wifes name spelled backwards as an anonymous blogger, and then his company did a somewhathostile takeover. Somehow they weaseled out of the Anti-trust suit the SEC follishly dropped. Personally I feel while his wisdom may not be invalid it should certainly be scrutinized.
commented by Anonymous Ted, 10:57 AM  

Completely agree with your thoughts Ted. Everything should be taken with a grain of salt. I think its healthy for us to process through some of the things he has to say.
commented by Blogger Justin Forman, 7:45 PM  

It is interesting to note the convergence of the social and private sectors. Companies like Whole Foods are seeking to find more ways to do business in a socially responsible and just way. The corporate social responsibility movement is profoundly impacting the status quo, single bottom-line approach.

On the other end of the spectrum, nonprofit organizations in the social sector are exploring ways to alleviate donor dependence by developing earned income strategies. The social enterprise movement has flowed out of social sector organizations seeking to glean from the success, growth, scale and fiscal discipline of the private sector.

On the one side of the spectrum, folks like Mackey are pushing the needle for private companies to operate more responsibly. On the other side of the spectrum, social sector organizations are integrating innovative entrepreneurial approaches.

Chris Horst
commented by OpenID smorgasblurb, 12:25 PM  

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