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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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What Does it Mean to Be a Good Company?

August 13, 2014, 1:04 AM
Good_business

Statesmen and philosophers have grappled with the question of what it means to live a good life for millennia. The question of what it means to be a good company is certainly newer but perhaps no easier to answer. Does it mean responding principally to shareholder demands? Or does it require special efforts, ensuring employee wellbeing and long-term sustainability? In an age of populist anger pointed at multinational corporations, Unilever sets the bar higher than any other when it comes to being a good company.

Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, owning brands like Lipton tea, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and Vaseline. It also harvests palm oil, notorious for causing deforestation in tropical zones where sharecroppers plant fields illegally. But the company's attempts at creating benevolent capitalism are exemplary:

"Through recycling and efficiency drives, three-quarters of Unilever’s manufacturing sites now send no non-hazardous waste to landfills. Carbon emissions in its manufacturing operations are one-third lower than in 2008, through a combination of cleaner technologies and greater efficiency."

In an interview with Martin Sorrell, CEO of the multinational advertising firm WPP, Big Think discussed what it means to be a "good" company:

By 2020, Unilever aims to help one billion people worldwide improve their health and wellbeing and believes that Milton Friedman's view of business being responsible first to its shareholders is interpreted too narrowly. Ultimately, the company will have to convince its consumers and shareholders to buy into its business plan, which means reducing personal energy use and giving up things like quarterly earnings reports. 

Read more at the Economist

Photo credit: Shutterstock

 

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