For businesses that have been used to doing whatever they want, the invention of social media has introduced a novel (and rather unwelcome) complexity to the work of commerce. There was a time when the people had to march in the street carrying placards to shut down the factory. Now they just pick up their smart phone, join a few thousand or million others, and commercial freedom can be halted by an on-line petition or unfavorable trend on social media.

With instability and populist movements exploding across traditionally stable democracies, even the political classes are finding a remarkable agility to create and enact protective legislation in the face of voter pressure. There are now a million ‘Davids’ who, armed with little more than the slings of social media, can mount a campaign of military precision from any place, anywhere. Like the giants of Brobdingnag in Gulliver’s Travels, product and pricing strategy, often long analyzed and painstakingly crafted, can be turned on its ear by a momentary firestorm of trending displeasure.

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On the face of it, business as we have known it seems more and more handcuffed and constrained, whether by formal legislation or simply by the risk of unwanted attention. But there is a silver lining in this cloud of what may seem at times like entrapment. A new and more positive populism is re-shaping business for the better. [Tweet that!]

In For Goodness’ Sake: satisfy the hunger for meaningful business you'll be inspired by the kinds of businesses that are starting to emerge in response to this new fourth voice (in addition to the market, the regulator, and more recently CSR) and gain vision for how each of us might contribute to make business a vital force for good.

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