Announcing Net Positive

Hello blog readers.

Some of you may have noticed that I have not written a lot of posts over the last 18 months or so. It wasn’t just pandemic malaise…I was mostly working on a new book with the former Unilever CEO, the great Paul Polman. The result of that 2-year endeavor is finally out in the world.

Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take

Our overall purpose with this book is to help leaders raise their ambitions and build companies that profit by solving the world’s problems, not creating them. The time is right for a re-set. There’s been more change in the expectations of business and the role of business in society in the last couple of years than in the previous 20. Many things have come together — climate change moving into the foreground, not as a model to debate, but devastating and expensive extreme weather today; rising transparency about all a company does and stands for; the murder of George Floyd and the pandemic, both raising awareness of the very different treatment, and life and health outcomes, of minority communities, especially in the U.S.; and much more.

Our biggest challenges, inequality and climate change (plus the destruction of the natural world and decline in biodiversity), are accelerating. It’s time to think bigger about what business can and should do.

We define a net positive business as one that:

“…improves well-being for everyone it impacts and at all scales—every product, every operation, every region and country, and for every stakeholder, including employees, suppliers, communities, customers, and even future generations and the planet itself. This is a North Star. No company can achieve all these aims at once, but it’s where we should be heading if we want a viable economy and planet. To exist as a relevant business today is to enrich the world.

The ultimate question is this: Is the world better off because your business is in it?

In the book, we…

  • Lay out key principles of a net positive company including, most critically, taking ownership of all your impacts on the world through your products, services, operations, supply chains, and influence)
  • Explore the attributes of net positive leaders (courage is a big one)
  • Provide the steps and key elements of building a company that profits by serving the world:
    • finding your personal purpose,
    • unlocking organizational meaning,
    • blowing up mental and organizational boundaries to set big goals,
    • building trust and transparency,
    • seeking out broad partnerships to solve big, shared problems.
  • Highlight some of the “elephants in the room” that leaders don’t want to talk about: companies avoiding taxes, executives making too much money, corruption, human rights, and more.


For a quasi-summary of the big ideas, please check out our article, the cover story of Harvard Business Review this month, “The Net Positive Manifesto“.

Of course we would like our book to do well, but more than anything we want to foment a movement. Please check out to track our progress and go here for U.S. and international options for buying the book.

As always, I appreciate your support.


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