Recently I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the dynamic of Co-Creation. We are, after all at that incredible time of year Imbolc, stirrings and spring, fertility. Everything is beginning to stir and that energy to move forward and manifest one’s dreams, goals or passions is once again rising. Ever since shifting out of the corporate career world and finding myself developing a spiritual / healing practice, it has been a constant learning curve of how to develop my own skills, follow a more spiritual way of life, while still meeting the material needs of a physical life.
I have found myself having to look closer and closer at the dynamic of what is often termed a “Spiritual Business”. The two terms for many, including myself, hold that diametrically opposed charge. After all being Spiritual broadly means coming from a place of love, giving and altruism; guided by some form higher vibration, consciousness, presence or heart centre; while business means just making money. Whatever you do, however, you do it – you make money. This requires goals, drive, marketing, selling and some kind of persuasion to purchase. Here comes the rub, if you are operating from a truly altruistic place, guided by spirit alone you cannot be driven by predetermined goals or inappropriately persuading people to purchase something that they either do not need or is inappropriate for them just to meet a sales target.
Funnily enough this is only a “rub” if you are operating from a place where there is some level of ok-ness about being unethical because it’s just business. Which is probably something we have got so used to in our daily lives, we now assume this is part of business. It does not have to be and frankly if you are operating an ethical business, marketing is much more about communicating well what you are offering in terms of your products or services. You sell to those who actually will benefit from your products or services and seek to source from ethical suppliers. All business have their plans, goals and targets, however, if a market is under producing you look into why, not force them to simply work harder. An honest look into it, may reveal important information about where the business actually needs to be going, either new areas to be developed or old ones that have run their course and need to be dropped for a while. This means that rather than going down the route of hard sell, squeeze out the competitor, you are rather widening the offering to the consumer.
When we are working from a place of spiritual guidance or altruism there is always the intension to provide the best regardless of profit. Often if you are listening to this, although sometimes what happens moment to moment might seem to make “poor business sense” it is actually providing the “best customer service possible”. It is coming from a place of really listening to what the “customer is seeking” and being totally honest whether they are going to find it with you or not. This guidance and decision is made from a place that is free from the constraints of goals and profits and to be truly spiritual must remain so.
The beauty is that when something is done from a place of joy and love and with expert insight, the product or service is then unique, high quality and ever evolving. This energy charge obeys or rather echos the principles of laws of attraction and positive creativity. It does though mean working with a certain light of foot and hand, while being always true to high level of intent and integrity not completely tied by formular or routine. Plus what it actually does; rather than business making things “un-spiritual”, it potentially challenges business to operate more ethically.
So where does competition fit into all of this? In life we all go through certain training and while we come out with our own take on it, there is still a point where we overlap or work in the same industry or offer similar services or products as another. So often we are taught to compete, to be better than another or take the competition out. In other words engage in a very aggressive approach. This approach has lead to so much damage and under valuing of natural resources and of human lives all in the name of productivity and market share. What if actually this was not what competition was about? What if it was actually about a much more subtle form of betterment and creativity?
Geoff Mulgan writes about it in his book “The Locust and the Bee”, where he explores the different dynamics of Capitalism, how it has the potential to create a free creative market rather than an aggressive consuming monster. This also came out during a one day workshop I recently attended about running a Spiritual Business. What’s become clear to me is that it is a choice we all have to face within ourselves as creatives, consumers, and business owners or even employees, do we work from a place of co-creation or aggressive competition?
Co-creation takes certain qualities which often makes us feel vulnerable – we have to be, to a certain extent open and honest and from this there is immediately the requirement of a certain level of trust and faith with those that we are working with. It also often leaves us open to criticism, ridicule, and exposure of the very areas we are “not very good at”. Thing is it’s also a very brave place to operate from. The areas “we are not very good at” otherwise lurk in the dark corners, almost haunting us, forcing us to act from a place fear and defense. Surely that is just as painful as risking a certain level of trust and faith in another. Another we can choose whether we open up to or not. Don’t forget those who betray us, it is not about us being naïve, it is rather about their own inability to be trusted that is exposed.
The definition of Co-creation is “a management initiative, or form of economic strategy, that brings different parties together (for instance, a company and a group of customers), in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome.
Co-created value arises in the form of personalized, unique experiences for the customer (value-in-use) and ongoing revenue, learning and enhanced market performance drivers for the firm (loyalty, relationships, customer word of mouth). Value is co-created with customers if and when a customer is able to personalize his or her experience using a firm’s product-service proposition – in the lifetime of its use – to a level that is best suited to get his or her job(s) or tasks done and which allows the firm to derive greater value from its product-service investment in the form of new knowledge, higher revenues/profitability and/or superior brand value/loyalty.” Wikipedia.
Just imagine for one moment a world where business operates from a place of integrity, good intention and co-creation? Wow! The Ego-Macho pasturing of the likes of the ‘Trumps’ of this world would be given little space, as they rely on setting one off against the other and therefore would find no place at a table where genuine Sustainable Co-creation was manifesting.