Business Success in the Age of Activism

Today, all it takes is one misstep to sink an organization's reputation. Social media can be a strict ethical enforcer, with the power to convince thousands to boycott your offerings or oppose your policy priorities. Leaders are stuck on appeasing shareholders and stakeholders - employees, suppliers and consumers. They often pay too little attention to shapeholders with no stake in a company—regulators, the media, and social and political activists—who can either work hard to curb what they see as bad practice or to promote an activity they support. Organization's ignore these groups to their own detriment.

In Shapeholders: Business Success in the Age of Activism, the former congressman, Fortune 500 executive, and university president Mark Kennedy argues that shapeholders, as much as stakeholders, have enormous influence on a business's fate, with significant power to determine a company's risks and opportunities, if not its survival. Many international, multi-billion-dollar corporations fail to anticipate activism, and they flounder on first contact. Kennedy zeroes in on the different languages that shapeholders and companies speak and on their contrasting metrics for what constitutes ethical business practice. He teaches executives to be visionary, to sidestep conflict effectively, and to find profitable—and probable—collaborations to diffuse political tensions. Kennedy's decision matrix helps corporations align their business practices with shapeholder interests, anticipate their demands, and assess the viability of changing moral and ethical standards so that together they can plan a profitable route forward.

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Quoted in Chief Executive and Strategy & Leadership

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