Thursday March 15, 2018 0 comments
By Bill Van Eron
Headwaters Marketing and Innovation
Having an “inclusive purpose” connotes one that fires up internal passion as well as market regard…it rarely gets any better than that.
Yet, as powerful as this notion is and how highly it ranks as a market requirement, only a rare few organizations have had the proper insight and commitment to achieve it. Conversely, companies with a strong social footprint - who are genuine to promises and who practice diversity and inclusion internally and externally -- are deemed as today’s most successful future-sighted companies.
What’s all this talk about an inclusive purpose and why has it been so elusive? The criteria for an exceptional purpose is as follows:
- It has to really matter internally. It has to transcend beyond just the job, to also fire up employees to do their best because they care to. It can’t be one dimensional. The answer has to touch on values, emotional roots and be a clear and daily inspiration to matter.
- To earn that special regard markets assign to companies truly making a positive difference in the world or in a community. The good news is that as markets add in how employees are treated to the assessment of value equation, that should incent leaders to originate policies that enable employees. Contrast that with Gallup’s report that only 15% of employees are emotionally engaged with work, and you start to make the logical conclusion of importance.
- Companies that put down most ideas as a “dime a dozen”, or that fail to align ideas and input to a rich variety of needs, tend to score low on innovation, employee retention and engagement. Those that enable ideas and show their process, prioritization, impact and credit all sources, tend to score highly. That comes closer to being a purpose many respect, even though it is an enabling, inclusive process with infinite possibilities.
The old game of slapping your logo on an effort you “support” that you do not apply internally to earn employee passion or market regard, now communicates a degree of superficiality most want to avoid. Or winning an award that was a point in time measure versus a commitment to continuous improvement…all still superficial.
Just having a purpose, even a great one, may fall short if there is not unity, empathy, inclusion and innovation applied to keeping it fresh, and relevant, thus the need to identify which lines in the sand to blur where those lines create resistance to progress. Just like sand, change shifts daily so assessing the impact is important.
Why observation is crucial to success? One thing I admired about Steve Jobs, is that when questioned by a reporter asking how he valued analytics, his response inferred that the best insights come from direct observation and immersion. So that time where we walk in the shoes of our customers, channel partners, media and others that influence their trust and experience ecosystem may give some better insights to the cost / benefit relationships that can shape more observant organizational models. While the word Ecosystem was not yet used much during Jobs lifetime, his observations gave Apple a rare human insight than analytics that assess past buyer behaviors and segmentation can do. I have personally taken this approach for decades now, as a designer, market strategist, PR, Channel and Brand Strategist that in every case inspired remarkable team efforts, and remarkable revenues growth. It works far better now, albeit the need to transform companies that have failed is a sad testimony to lagging corporate readiness. We can applaud the Patagonia’s of the world that got this long ago and still have an advantage now. I hope the early adopters among us get past their attraction to the phrase and start embracing the mindset and actions.
Time to blur the lines that inadvertently define closed, internally focused companies? The process of defining a purpose and what you stand for, still requires an open culture, open dialog, and respect for diversity of viewpoints. With that in mind and heartful practice; shared values emerge; civil discourse and bolder goals start to become corporate characteristics. Observing our human patterns unchallenged, we see greater polarization. Our work helps more of us to welcome outside in objectivity; embrace the skills of open dialog and raise the discussion to the highest needs to engage all views that challenge, approve and that strengthen an idea or strategy. When all is done with ground rules and respect for the process, we are all better off.
What should we look out for? Political polarization currently reflects the worst of dysfunctionality. When it comes to ensuring robust, fulfilling personal lives, careers, businesses, and even communities, the culture you can influence above all the walls or lines in the sand create, affords us all greater freedom to recognize and escape the trappings that limit us. We soon discover we all are interdependently connected by one or more factors. It takes conscious, caring, open and creative people to make it all work.
A few examples of lines in the sand that are typical in business:
- A status quo and pressure to maintain it. Resistance to those that see a need to challenge it.
- Hierarchical top down organization. Time-pressured repetitive work. Low employee inclusion.
- New ideas are quickly dismissed or rarely offered. Ideas are the lifeblood of all organizations.
- A strict bottom line focus that limits or stops innovation or improvement. Less future oriented.
- Values take a back seat to process and deadlines. This creates a ‘going through the motions’ culture.
- One dominant expertise distorting a culture of balance. Creates closed internal cultures sans objectivity.
A few examples of line blurring actions that all companies can apply easily:
- Embrace champions that challenge the status quo to achieve more and get past obstacles.
- Create a culture that recognizes leadership within the ranks. Enable, reward and leverage their success.
- Create the means to generate quality ideas, review, development and performance measures.
- Learn how to meet the needs of today, as continuous with actions that prepare for a better tomorrow.
- Understand customers and stakeholder values to create the highest priorities and processes.
- Get past silos and one dimensional focus to use all skills that embrace the ecosystem trust, relevance and purpose requirements.
- I predict a new, more open form of accountability will prove vital to the organization of the near future sooner than later. I encourage that with clients we help now.
This is just a snapshot of what we have applied over 100 times firsthand, still under the corporate radar yet earning the sweet-spot of internal and external trust, credibility, engagement and relevance -- now crucial in the new social influenced economy. You can wait a few years for others to figure out how to make this happen at risk of appearing as a market laggard, or contact the growing yet few of us that offer in-depth experience and natural guidance through the whys and how’s appropriate for you. I network with resources who collaborate with me to achieve awesome for more people than current methods do.