CORE : How a Single Organizing Idea can Change Business for Good book cover
1st Edition

How a Single Organizing Idea can Change Business for Good

ISBN 9781783537853
Published July 26, 2017 by Routledge
178 Pages

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USD $39.95

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Book Description

CORE is shortlisted for the Best Business Book Awards in the Engaging Change category.

At the core of the world's most admired businesses lies a powerful Single Organizing Idea. These organizations deliver sustainable economic and social benefit; they unite people, attract investment, inspire innovation, pioneer new efficiencies, and enjoy positive reputation.

Such businesses are admired but they remain a rare breed.

Though the tides of change are engaging the minds of business leaders, most are still trapped behind their brands and an approach to corporate social responsibility that is out of step with a connected society that increasingly questions 'who' these businesses really are and what drives their purpose.

This book is about how businesses can adopt a Single Organizing Idea and, more importantly, why they have to. Drawing on stories and case studies, and with reference to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, its no-nonsense approach sets aside the ideals to confront the realities of business reform. It demonstrates the power and potential that a Single Organizing Idea can bring to any business prepared to take its head out of the sand and proactively respond to today's challenges.

Table of Contents


Part 1: A Change of Fortune

A short fictional story of our times

Part 2: The Case for Change

1. The reshaping of capitalism

2. The waning of CSR

3. The ascent of values

4. The surge of technology

5. The rise of reputation and the fall of brand

6. Turning the dial

Part 3: Changing for Good

7. Phase 1: Identifying

8. Phase 2: Defining

9. Phase 3: Aligning

10. What it takes


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NEIL GAUGHT is what Malcolm Gladwell would call an outlier. 

Neil was born in Hertfordshire in the UK in 1963. Following a short spell in the British Army and an even shorter one in the French Foreign Legion he completed his education at the London College of Printing where he gained a BA(Hons) in Graphic Design. A year after graduating he founded his first business, a London-based design consultancy. Having successfully run the business for ten years he sold it to a marketing company before joining WPP’s largest global brand consultancy, Enterprise IG. There he took a leading role on a variety of high profile branding projects for Merrill Lynch, DeBeers, Andersen, Scottish Power, BG Group and Standard Chartered Bank, among others. 

In 2003 Neil and his young family moved to New Zealand for the adventure. Following three years with the country’s leading agency DesignWorks, Neil re-established his independent consultancy status. Since then he has advised a wide variety of organizations, ranging from international NGOs and energy, manufacturing and infrastructure corporates to tech start-ups, global faith based organizations and government institutions across Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa and the USA.


'Business should help people learn how they can live better lives and lead society to create the systems and technologies to do so. Core is a great guide to how business can take on that task.'

Charles Leadbetter, author of We-think: the power of mass creativity, and leading management consultant

'I enjoyed this book, learned from it - and strongly recommend it for those trying to succeed at the interface between business and society.'

John Elkington, Chairman, Volans, and co-author with Jochen Zeitz of The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways To Connect Today's Profits With Tomorrow's Bottom Line

'CORE is a really important piece of work. We need this kind of principled clarity more than ever before.'

Simon Anholt, Founder, Good Country, and Honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia, UK

'No business can prosper in the future without a clear purpose and here at last is a practical management tool to turn a great theory into gritty reality.'

Mike Barry, Director, M&S Plan A, UK

'This is a great reflection on the movement beyond CSR to one that connects business –  through purpose – to the real issues on which our societies need to deliver. It’s a great recipe for future success – and one that is much needed. It will be a good practical reference for any organisation wanting to make a positive difference.'

Rachel Brown, Founder & CEO of Sustainable Business Network, New Zealand

'There's been a lot of pontification about why businesses need to develop a social purpose but precious little insight on how they can go about it. Refreshingly, Neil's done exactly that with this book – a must read for any business that wants to create social change.'

Jilly Forster, founder, Forster Communications, UK

'When you have a core idea at the heart of your business, as co-operatives tend to in focusing on member needs, there can be a richness of motivation and a special kind of empowered collaboration at work. Keep it simple and you can bring more people on board.'

 Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK and author of Values

'As he says, identifying the odd win-win is not radical enough. And in the digital age, there is no more time for spin and greenwash. Businesses need to change in a more fundamental way, and Neil’s idea of a Single Organising Idea (SOI) is compelling.'

Johnathan Glennie, Director, Ipsos’ Sustainable Development Research Centre

'I agree with your argument that business needs to focus on its core, rather than philanthropic CSR, and I like the idea of companies bringing focus to how they do that through an SOI. This latter point is what I think really is new in your book.'

 Zahid Torres-Rahim, Founder, Business Fights Poverty

'The fictionalized story really grabbed me. It dramatically brings home the new reality of extreme global connectivity.'

 David Grayson, Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Cranfield School of Management