Technology-driven revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries — the Industrial, Green and Information Revolutions — have been replaced by a new values-based paradigm.

In the past, the definition and solution to challenges were technology based. Now, technology is being considered a tool to resolve issues defined by values. We are seeing the world in a new way.

The change to a values-based decision-making process can be seen in trends that directly affect the business process. Laws, stockholders and the press have demanded increased transparency in government and business. Plain language in communications is expected and increasingly becoming a reality. One outcome of this is the increasing intrusiveness of government in how businesses are operated.

Our expectations for what is an acceptable set of values and behavior for a public figure, whether a sports star, politician or c.e.o., are being more clearly and narrowly defined.

Access to information on a global scale gives individuals and companies the opportunity to shop around for products and price. Businesses are pulled between the global and the local. Their customers and consumers expect variety and products tailored to their preferences. Our ability to choose is valued.

Mergers and acquisitions all have international components. The complexity of global interactions and speed of actions and reactions makes this a 24/7 world.

Commodities are not only agricultural products but energy, stocks, art collections, etc. The volatility and scale of the global economy overlaid with potentially conflicting values makes prediction difficult.

Corporate responsibility and sustainability are defined inclusively from well-managed financials to a minimal impact on the environment. Concern for weather, drought, floods and climate change is considered a shared social value. Companies are expected to act responsibly toward the environment, a values-driven attitude reflected in government-imposed higher taxes and stricter operating conditions. Companies are expected to be proactive not reactive in their response to environmental and personnel issues. Environmental issues may refer to how the company uses air and water resources. Personnel issues include the hourly worker and the shareholder.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will have an indirect impact on your business. Much of the money will go to refurbishing government buildings including federal offices, military installations, public housing and public schools.

However, many businesses will be able to deduct more of the cost of investments in plants and equipment from taxable income faster. Investment credits and tax credits will be available for renewable energy purchases such as wind and solar power. Your business might benefit from stimulus package provisions such as small tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans and 16- to 25-year-olds.

Government food programs will receive more monetary support, which may provide opportunities to sell your products. Money will be spent on highways and bridges, so route truck drivers will need to keep up on local conditions.

The stimulus package may help to improve the quality of life of your employees without you spending scarce monies on salary and benefits. Your human resource departments may be of assistance to employees by making information on the stimulus package easily available.

The package includes: home energy and weatherization credits, tax credits for families with children, tax credits for single people with incomes below $75,000 and married couples with incomes below $150,000 and help with college expenses. The information on most of these programs will be simple downloads from federal and state Web sites.

Share nutrition information on the importance of grain products in the diet with your employees — your most loyal consumers and word-of-mouth sales people. The Food and Drug Administration Web site and MyPyramid can be of useful resource. Improved health of the employees is also important. Businesses are expected to be good corporate citizens of their communities, to be fiscally responsible and to take responsibility for the welfare of their employees.

These changes reflect a shift in focus from technology-based solutions of the past to resolutions based on values.



This article can also be found in the digital edition of Baking & Snack, April 1, 2009, starting on Page 14. Click

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