The English version of our book Business in Love has been available in all countries for a few weeks now, with a very charming title: Engaging the Heart in Business: A Revolutionary Market Approach Based On Love (in Italian “Metti il cuore nel lavoro: un approccio rivoluzionario al mercato basato sull’amore”).
I take this opportunity to reflect on the reasons that led us to write this text, which are deeply connected to the social and economic changes that we are experiencing – including the pandemic, the lockdown, the shift to remote working – and to the way we are facing these new challenges, seizing their evolutionary opportunities.
The human being at the heart of business
In the last few years books, conventions and specialized press have discussed the opportunity of putting human beings at the heart of market dynamics: what does this really mean and what can companies do to ensure that it doesn’t remain just an appealing slogan?
The first observation is that every worker is first of all a person made up of body, mind and heart; none of these elements can be ignored. However most of the times companies tend to forget exactly the heart. So many managers and businessmen complain about unmotivated employees who “put their pens down at 5”, and then treat them as robots provided “only” with a body which must follow directions and a mind they wish they could control.
People who go to work leaving their souls at home will end up living as zombies; with time they will stop working hard or – as an outburst of humanity – they will move to another company to find new incentives (different tasks, more benefits, …) which however will only have a temporary positive effect if they do not meet their inner needs.
For example, putting human beings at the heart of the buying or selling experience means keeping in mind that they don’t only have material needs but also emotional needs, personal sensitivities, fears and insecurities: salespeople working with their hearts need to develop all those “soft” skills – empathy, listening, interpersonal skills, carefulness, attentiveness – that will allow them to better adapt to each client/person.
It seems easy in theory, yet many find it difficult to open up to this method of interaction; we’ll understand why in the next paragraph.
Protagonists of a revolution underway
Looking at the scenarios that are emerging (working toward goals, working from home with sporadic meetings at the company’s premises) and observing the dynamics that characterize them – i.e. flexibility, individual responsibility, shared values and goals – we can say that a real revolution is taking place. The evolutionary transformation, however, will be achieved only if we all let the first spark of positive change light up within us.
Business in Love/Engaging the Heart in Business is addressed to all those who want to become actors of renewal, who want to live their profession as a chance to fully put themselves out there, with a desire to leave their mark and contribute to the common good.
To do so we have to start from knowing ourselves, identifying what we can give through our work and opening up to what we can receive from it, getting involved in the being-offering-receiving process, in order to restart with a higher level of awareness.
If we consider a company as a living organism – i.e. as the sum of the people who belong to it – the same circular approach can be applied. However it is essential to consider the organizational model adopted, the marketing tools and the company’s vocabulary in use.
A business model based on love
Since 1967, when Philip Kotler published the first edition of Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning and Control, so many words have been spoken to enhance, reconsider and – in some cases – reject his theories. So did we really need another book on this topic? In our opinion it was important to write a text that could help companies adopt a new language – derived from a new point of view – when talking about clients, employees, suppliers, competitors, market, restoring priorities, interactions and paradigms.
In Business in Love/Engaging the Heart in Business we suggest replacing the war metaphor (conquer the market, defeat the competition, hit the target-client) with that of love (make clients fall in love, respect the competition competing on value, appreciate employees).
This is the basis of the Loving Business Model which, building on the essence of the company (Brand-Mission-Offer System), analyses the interaction with all the actors and the transfer of value which takes place through the Value Journey (that is the sum of the customer journey and the employee journey).
We don’t want to suggest a mushy concept of business and corporate life, but a real methodological alternative to guarantee satisfactory results for everybody.
Human beings are intrinsically predisposed to evolution and economy, being a social science, can only support this trend by renewing its models. This is why we, the authors, along with all the institutions and organizations on both sides of the ocean which have collaborated on the research at the heart of the book, have worked hard to give our contribution in order to help companies and professionals play an active role in the change underway.
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“Even when you have to face difficulties and challenges remember that your heart can help you. If you feel good about yourself when you’re working, love what you do, make real connections with the people you work with and serve your community, you can be sure the results will not fail to arrive.”
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