New Power and Shared Value


At a time when power structures, climate and economies are rapidly changing, business is well-placed to act and adapt with speed and scale. The 2020 Shared Value Summit Asia Pacific explores this potential, and is set to be headlined by Jeremy Heimans; co-author of New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World- and How To Make It Work For You.

Named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business and one of ten most influential voices on sustainability in the US by The Guardian, Jeremy has a wealth of insight into political structures, social impact and power in the twenty-first century. But how and where do these concepts intersect with shared value?

‘New power’ is held by the many – it is like a current; most powerful when many people are contributing and channelling it. ‘Old power’ is held by the few – and is described as guarded and inaccessible.

Jeremy’s message is not to reject old power, and welcome the new with open arms- but rather, to know when and how to use both kinds of power; to navigate old power institutions and companies and harness the swell of collective new power.

The intersection with shared value thinking, strategy and outcomes is three-fold.

  1. Shared value and new power- participatory, innovative and inclusive

Finding solutions to social issues, collaborating across sectors and innovating for new business models are fundamental both to shared value strategy and new power movements.  But without old power structures and frameworks, new power movements struggle with decentralisation and lack of unity of purpose.

  1. Shared value and old power- working within a capitalist framework

Shared value aims to expand the goals of capitalism; to see the business sector benefit all stakeholders, as redefined at last years’ Business Roundtable Convention . This means working within the current system, and harnessing the resources of institutions that adopt old power frameworks and values.

  1. Shared value as a tool for coupling old and new

The lesson is to be ‘bilingual’: learn to work the old system and retain what’s valuable, while ushering in the strengths of new power systems. Working for the interests of many, while navigating an established capitalist system, shared value is an effective framework which incorporates the values of both old and new power.

Jeremy will explore this topic further at the Shared Value Summit plenary day, June 10. Register here.

More reading on Heimans and New Power:

Harvard Business Review 2014, ‘Understanding New Power’

TED 2014, Jeremy Heimans

New York Times, The New Power Structure

The Guardian 2018, New Power author Jeremy Heimans: ‘Like it or not, the old world isn’t coming back’