Culture Workplace

5 Keys to Building a Business that Doesn’t Bury the Humans at its Core

January 17, 2014
Elizabeth Drake


5 Keys to Building a Business that Doesn’t Bury the Humans at its Core

You may have questions about what we mean when we say that business needs to learn to be human. You’re not alone.

In “5 Keys to Building a Business That Doesn’t Bury the Humans At Its Core” Tim Leberecht asks this very question and lays out what he sees as 5 essential aspects of a truly human business.

You might feel a little concerned at the idea of a ‘human’ business; after all, humans can be irrational, sentimental, and unpredictable, whereas we design business to be rational, practical, results oriented, and perform with consistency. Leberecht points out that it’s easy to forget that what makes up and runs businesses is humans. Wouldn’t it be better if our businesses were made in our image? However, he knows that humans are not perfect, sometimes they can be outright horrible, so he sets a higher standard: the humanist business. A humanist business is not seeking to just be human, but reaching for what we, as humans, aspire to be.

There are five key aspects of a humanist business as Leberecht sees it:

  1. Empathy: In the flood of “big data” and the quantification of human relationships, we shouldn’t forget about human relationships. Humanist businesses are “wired to care.” These businesses can sense changes in people early on and know how to adjust to new behaviors before intuition becomes knowledge.
  2. Culture: Our successes as a species come from our ability to form communities. Culture is essential for collaboration.
  3. Morality: Because of our hyper connectivity, it’s hard to hide unpleasant truths. Integrity is the only truly sustainable standpoint.  Interior and exterior, actions and words, purpose and action must align.
  4. Creativity: Variation wins out over routine. A creative business is constantly reinventing itself and giving its employees and customers a role in product development.
  5. Aspiration: Working toward a unique mission. Imagination is key to creating a sense of hope and giving a business and its employees a higher purpose. There is a constant feedback loop between employees’ own passions and the direction of the organization.