450 leaders were present during three full days. The heavy agenda was meticulously fulfilled by almost forty speakers, gathered in the UNIAPAC World Congress in Lisbon. Many proofs were given by thinkers and makers attesting that the entrepreneurial world may accomplish the three new KPLs in management: performance, purpose and people. It’s enough to have the courage to surpass fear and understand it is possible to do something useful and earn money instead of doing something merely to earn money
BY HELENA OLIVEIRA
If Milton Friedman had been invited to be present in the UNIAPAC World Congress that took place the previous week in “Universidade Católica” in Lisbon, very probably he would have felt indisposed and uncomfortable. Actually, for someone who has repeatedly said that the only social responsibility of the enterprises would be the maximization of profit, to have almost 450 people attesting the opposite, it wouldn’t have been easy to bear.
The truth is that entrepreneurial leaders, thinkers, academics, representatives of the Church and of the civil society, believers and non believers, from rich and poor countries, from Europe, Asia, America(s) and Africa, with big and small projects, known or unknown, discussing multiple ways to add value and values to businesses, they would have most certainly smashed the reputation of the American economist who considered the idea of social responsibility of the enterprises as “a subversive doctrine”, as the headmistress of “Universidade Católica” so clearly recalled in her welcome words.
Under the idea “business as a noble vocation”, what “wasn’t a mere congress but rather a transformational experience”, according to the words of João Pedro Tavares, president of ACEGE (Christian Association of Businessmen and Managers), a co-organizer of the event, it was also an exercise of reflection, synthesis, sharing, motivation and, above all, conviction that it is demonstrably possible to humanize the organizational cultures and work for the common good, two of the great themes in discussion during three fulfilled days.
As the president of UNIAPAC, Rolando Medeiros, also declared in the opening words of the congress, and as long as “this is an urgent journey regarding the tremendous challenges we face”, no enthusiasm and faith failed in the words of the almost 40 speakers who, on stage, shared their ideas and presented their projects, declaring that even in a society devastated by a “globalized indifference” – as Pope Francisco never gets tired of alerting – it is possible and compulsory “to change our enterprises, not because they are rotten, but because they are obsolete”, as the economist Stefano Zamagni , the invited speaker for this same session assured in his well known high intellectual maturity.
To report everything that was discussed and analyzed in this meeting would be a tremendous and unworkable task; however, it is possible to share some of the ideas and narrations (they will be more developed in the following week) of the already many people who believe that the entrepreneurial activity may be lived as a noble vocation, not pressed by the greed of the immediate results, not accounted for the dimension of the profit , but for the positive impact it has in all its stakeholders, and, moreover, not free from a sense of responsibility and accountability inscribed in a trilogy – solidarity, subsidiarity and service towards the others. So far, just a synthesis of the main themes in debate.
The new KPIs in management: performance, purpose and people
As the president of UNIAPAC referred, the opening session had truly inspiring speeches by three important personalities, who, as to say, “announced” what the congress would be about. Through specifically recorded videos, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa used words that “are close to our mission”, as Rolando Medeiros referred; Cardinal Peter Turkson summarized what the meaning of facing businesses as a noble vocation is. Last but not least important was the special message from Pope Francisco brought by monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffé, urging all present “to promote a more human economy”. The first day would come to an end with the golden key, with economist Stefano Zamagni’s speech, who opted to “elect his main challenges”, instead of translating this “noble vacation”, as also the president of UNIAPAC stressed. Or, in short, the crowded opening session was also used as a kind of blessing and inspiration for the following works.
On the second and more intense day of the congress, Rolando Medeiros called everybody’ attention for the fact that if “the market gives us many choices” the world gives us “little meaning or purpose” and that is one of the realities that has to be reversed. And it was a personal sharing to find that purpose in life that gathered input for the interventions of the second panel, with completely different speakers coming from equally different countries, as Morocco, Indonesia, Philippines, Senegal and Slovakia.
In turn, and while one of the main speakers of the congress, Randy Lewis, ex-vice president of Walgreens and founder of NOGWOG Disability Initiative – dedicated to recruitment of people with incapacity in the higher possible number of enterprises, having as inspiration the well succeeded experience in the second biggest chain of pharmacies in the world – presented “a true business case” and, brilliantly opened the way for the second view, proving that it is ”fear that makes us smaller” and that it is possible to include all different persons in enterprises that are supposed to be less and less equal.
After examples of people and projects that fight for organizational inclusion and diversity – even in a time of “rejection and hostility globalization” – the following panel presented the third “P” of the above referred trilogy (after people and purpose) and was about entrepreneurial performance moved by ethical and unchangeable principles in the form of an inspired debate that, as Rolando Medeiros had summarized, makes us believe that organizations are on the right way so that their cultures may be more human and their mission may serve the common good.
The main theme of the following panel was how to make the enterprises grow with a positive impact in this so much necessary common good, conducted by Raj Sisodia, the co-creative of the concept of the conscious capitalism that now elects the “healing” as “the ultimate goal” of our times. As a “preview” of his new book that will be published in 2019 with the title ”The Healing Organization”: Awakening the Conscious of Business to Help Save the World, Sisodia alerted that the human costs when making businesses the “normal” way are tremendously high and that there is no bill for all this suffering. Therefore, “it is urgent”, at this precise moment, to heal the past and prepare “the stage to cure the future”.
And this event was closed talking about the future of the labour context, in a debate fulfilled with different and pertinent perspectives, among which the most striking one was perhaps the idea that we are facing an enormous changed paradigm – that will force us “to re-learn how to work” – together with an inconvenient truth one of the speakers referred: “it seems we are more worried about the future of work than about its present”.
In his final notes, the President of UNIAPAC, Rolando Medeiros, didn’t hide his satisfaction concerning the success of the gathering of more than four hundred entrepreneurial leaders, feeling sorry, however, that its format hadn’t allowed a wider participation of the public, and also that, although the organization he represents had tried, there hadn’t been a panel only composed of young leaders, something that, he hopes, will be different in the next World Congress that will take place in 2021, in Philippines.
As congresses are no longer what they used to be, or because the apps have begun to integrate any event, it was João Pedro Tavares’task to do the closing and ask the participants to express themselves and say what they had kept in mind from the event. Immediately, a “cloud” began to take form on the screen of the Cardinal Medeiros Auditorium, and the results left no doubt. “Inspiration” was the most voted word, (per)secuted by hope, commitment ,love and… no fear. Actually, as the President of ACEGE reaffirmed, the idea is to overcome fear and bear in mind that greatness doesn’t exist if not together with goodness. And he finished promising that “this is not a closing session, but the opening for a new future”.