Read past the idealism of the first few pages and this book by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia develops a powerful and optimistic vision: it explains how free enterprise capitalism ought to and can operate to achieve an optimal balance of interests between all stakeholders in a company; rather than focusing on returns for some at the expense of others. This premise becomes all the more interesting given that one of the authors, John Mackey, was cofounder of Whole Foods Market which was acquired by Amazon in 2017. It explains the unique potential of purpose-led companies to achieve this balanced outcome, and if you take a moment to fold over the page wherever you come across an interesting idea, we suspect you will end up with a pretty dog-eared book!
We found a great deal of value in the chapters on conscious culture and management, and equally suspect that if we read it again, we would find as much if not more value elsewhere. For all of us who have lived with the consequences of the 2007/8 financial crash and witnessed so many companies and industries seemingly lose sight of their higher purpose and sense of ethics, this is a powerful reminder that there always was and still is a better balance to strive for. There are plenty of insights relevant to smaller businesses here, and if you are anything like us, the ideals and ideas in this book will stay with you long after you finish reading it. The acid question today, of course, is whether these same ideals and values will survive the acquisition by Amazon or whether they will go the same way as so many mergers and acquisitions in the past.