“Responsibility is a base expectation of business and brands. Corporations need to focus on something much more valuable: social relevance” argues Babson senior fellow and former Target senior executive Nate Garvis in his new book “Naked Civics”. “We’re experiencing a powerful Outrage Industry that moves us left and right, but social relevance is how we’re going to move forward.”
“For decades CSR has meant Corporate Social Responsibility, but updating the R from responsibility to relevance points the way to brighter business futures,” Garvis said. “Naked Civics illustrates that designing positive social outcomes right into products and services serves as a value-added tool whereby businesses can effectively differentiate themselves in noisy marketplaces.”
“What you do is a commodity. How others feel about what you do, however, is where the premium lies,” Garvis said. “Tapping into the need for the public to feel like progress is being made on important issues is consistently showing up in polling as a growing part of the value proposition. Our political inability to make good on these needs opens up significant opportunity to those in business who want to accomplish the same goals through commerce.”
Utilizing design thinking, Naked Civics analyzes and illustrates the progress on key issues like the environment, education and health despite the polarized partisanship in Washington and in the media. “We can argue on and on about policies like cap and trade, but producing more products and services that are designed with environmental stewardship in mind not only makes real progress but increases commercial output as well.
Garvis believes that socially minded entrepreneurs and corporations have more assets at their disposal including the ability to surmount the hyper-politicized gridlock that has become the leading reason why so many legislative efforts fail and disappoint the public at large. In addition, embracing social relevance also serves to differentiate reduce frictions with interest groups pushing for social change.
Len Schlesiger, Babson’s President has set a solid course for the school as it continues its global leadership in entrepreneurial education. “Entrepreneurial Thought and ActionTM, Babson’s methodology, creates more possibilities for successful ventures in the fast changing marketplace of today,” he says. “And new innovations that serve the greater good are not only needed from just about every sector, increasingly it just makes good business sense.”
Schlesinger adds that Garvis is tapping into a “wonderfully disruptive idea: we don’t have to be spectators to angry politics. Acting in the social innovation marketplace is an everyday opportunity with real, tangible benefits.”
Babson’s Social Innovation Lab’s executive director and Garvis’ partner, Cheryl Kiser, states that “the complex nature of the challenges facing our communities means that no one sector, let alone no one player in any one sector can do much on their own.
“If we’re going to make effective headway, it will take a diversity of interests coming together in partnership.” Garvis adds, “And that’s one of the biggest challenges of settings like capitol buildings: there’s diversity of interests but the underlying model is distinctly adversarial. Collaboration is the new competitive edge in venture creation and the talented minds at Babson know how to wire interests together in ways that meet their individual needs while also serving the public interest.”
About Nate Garvis
As a former Vice President of Government Affairs and Senior Public Affairs Officer for Target Corporation, one of the world’s largest retail opera
tions, Nate Garvis has sat at the intersection of Fortune 100 business, government, politics, civics, media, health care, public safety, academia, philanthropy and non-governmental organizations for over twenty-five years. He is a member of a number of academic, think-tank, business and non-profit boards throughout the country, including
Allina Health, the Public Affairs Council and the College of Arts and Sciences at St. Thomas University. He also serves as, Babson Social Innovation fellowand Design Counsel at the Social Innovation Lab at Babson College. He is one of the co-founders of DoTopia, a social enterprise that is creating lifestyle philanthropy for all as well as a co-founder of Studio/E, an entrepreneurial experience for top-tier leaders conducted quarterly out of the historic James J. Hill Library.
About Naked Civics + Civic Design
Civic Design is a practice that focuses on the common good outcomes of our communities by pulling upon all of the institutional tools in our communities, beyond our traditional sole focus on government alone. Regulating our communities into better health and prosperity, writ large, is more than passing laws and warring over angry left vs. right politics. We simply cannot afford that type of narrow thinking anymore, and that is more than a mere financial commentary. We simply cannot afford to be that uncreative in these historically dynamic times.
About Babson College
Babson College, based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has been named by U.S. News and World Report and The Financial Times as the number one nationally ranked school for entrepreneurs for 19 years running.