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Review: Screw Business as Usual

/ April 10, 2014

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It’s not often we review books here that start off like a tabloid cover story, complete with Kate Winslet heroically rescuing an elderly woman from a fire and the author running naked into a cactus bush during a hurricane, but then we don’t often review works by larger-than-life billionaires like Richard Branson. In his rather cheekily titled 2011 book Screw Business as Usual (it’s been sitting on the “to read” pile for quite a while…), Branson argues that a new approach to business is needed to meet the social and environmental challenges the world is facing.

Start With WhyThroughout Screw Business as UsualBranson explores how businesses, both new startups and existing companies, can use their resources and relationships to make a positive impact on people and the planet. He explores a range of examples, including from the Virgin Group and Virgin Uniteand other companies and organizations, of how this new approach to business could work. Businesses aren’t going it alone in Branson’s vision of philanthrocapitalism, which he’s calling Capitalism 24902, however. Instead, partnerships and new models of collaboration between business, non-profits and governments are highlighted as potential opportunities to solve issues and explore new business “frontiers” (healthcare, education, and organic and ethical food and drinks).

Of perhaps the greatest interest to economic developers is Branson’s argument that change happens through communities, whether in the traditional sense or the communities businesses build with their employees, customers, and suppliers. According to Branson, we need to consider the role the businesses we work with play in creating communities that are able to make positive change.

An almost over-abundance of examples and name dropping aside, Screw Business as Usual is a light, easy read that will likely leave you fired up about how businesses can save the world. While it’s not a recent release, and it’s not a how to guide, Screw Business as Usual is worth a read for anyone working in a business support or economic development role who wants to understand how doing good really can be good for business.

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