What is Intentional Business Development?

I’ve based this sequence upon a talk I heard recently about intentional faith development (IFD).  As I listened, I found the points made mapped onto my understanding of business.  And so I invented this new phrase, intentional business development.

Everything I do relates to my Methodist faith.  Some posts in this blog are for those who share my faith or at least have sympathy with it.  This sequence is not part of that spirituality theme.

When I asked at the end of the talk about IFD and business, the speaker said he had drawn a lot from business.  This is no surprise.  Faith and business have a long history together.  However, my focus is on business and how insights from religious faith can help businesses understand what they do.

Understanding Intentional Business Development

Isn’t all business development intentional?  Well, yes and no.  In one sense anyone who sets up in business does it intentionally.  They may stumble upon some insight or product by accident but the decision to go ahead is intentional.

The real issue is keeping it intentional.  Your aim is to grow your business.  You may have stumbled upon something that offers immediate profit but then what?

In the next five posts, I shall explore five movements that apply just as much to business as it does to faith.  Before I outline the five movements, allow me to make a few points about faith.

What is Faith?

Faith does not mean belief.  I may believe in God but that does not mean I have faith.  The meaning of faith is more akin to trust.  Setting up in business is always an act of faith.  More usually we talk about risk.  You take a step into the unknown and cannot possibly know in advance your venture will work out.  You will never know if you don’t try it.

Therefore faith should never be confused with superstition.  If you believe the earth is flat, you are choosing to believe something in the teeth of the evidence.  All the evidence points away from the earth being flat.

Faith is in something that is not proven one way or the other.  To start a business venture is always an act of faith because there is no way of knowing in advance the venture will be successful.

Faith, Politics and Business

The reason so much political activity is not faith-based is many politicians are ideologues, believing their view is absolute.  We see this in politicians who believe Brexit will be a massive success.  The evidence mounts that it won’t.  The need is for politicians who are ready to find a compromise that works, even if it pleases no-one.

The truth is the only sand we have to build on us shifting.  This is as true for business as it is for politics.  The only certainty is change.  When we set up a business we seek to change things in a world already changing.  Without faith you are either moribund or absurd.

Faith is a Christian word and other religious traditions have their own words.  The five movements describe what intentional business development might look like.

Five Movements

  1. From self-centred to world-centred. The key word for this movement is discernment.  To be successful in business you need to focus on your market and their needs.  You seek mutual benefit out of self-interest and not self-centredness.
  2. From individual to collaborative. The key word for this movement is listening.  To go into business is to move from the private realm to the public.  As well as seeking mutual benefit between your business and your customers, it is also possible to work in partnership with other businesses.
  3. From technical to adaptive. The key word for this movement is transformation.  Being in business is never simply applying proven tools to a given situation.  The businesses that succeed are those ready to adapt without necessarily knowing the outcome.
  4. From cognitive to behavioural. The key word here is embodiment.  A successful business demands commitment from the whole person: mind, body and spirit.  It is not solely about what you know.
  5. From theory to practice. The key word here is Praxis (action / reflection).  An alternative key word might be learning.  No-one has ever learned from experience, they learn from experience reflected upon.

What Next?

There is no guarantee these five movements result in a successful business.  Perhaps some people have been successful through serendipity and never paid attention to any of this.

However, perhaps on reflection some would say: “Yes, actually these five movements were important.  I didn’t realise at the time but on reflection, I followed most of these movements.”

This is the first of a sequence about intentional business development.  It’s a part of Market Together.  Sign up below so you don’t miss a post and visit my new website by following the link.

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  • Chris
  • November 20, 2017
  • IBD

About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.