Ubuntu is an African philosophy captured in the story above as “I am because we are”, about valuing community above self-interest.
I love this, not least because it is also an easy way for readers to understand my philosophy around business. To add a layer, though, valuing community leaves a big gap if we fail to do it at scale when we have the opportunity and ability to do this.
Recycling Lives is unique – recognised as a UK leader for combining business and charity.
I truly believe in Leading from Purpose, “Putting Purpose first truly drives profit to allow you to further scale your impact.” For more on the scale for impact model, visit this page.
Linked to this, I frequently write about businesses that follow this in their leadership, hence this week I wrote: “Salesforce – Doing Well and Doing Good” focussed on this phrase used by their founder, Marc Benioff.
Previously I’ve written about two UK companies focussed on rehabilitation and employment of ex-offenders, Redemption Roasters and Timpson.
Today, highlighting a remarkable UK business, Recycling Lives, who are also achieving enormous social value, as highlighted in the statistics in the image above.
I developed the model above from my belief that businesses that put Purpose, People and Planet first can and do thrive. They then make a Profit as an outcome of living their Purpose, which is not at all the same as putting Profit as their primary driver.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I shared this quote about two weeks ago (feels like a long time right now!) in: “Create your future story now“. Over recent weeks we have seen businesses around the world respond to the crisis in different ways. Some have acted in ways that many find reprehensible, while many have been #DoingTheRightThing. So many stories every day, linking out to just a few here, here, here, here and here.
I believe that, when all this passes, we will remember those who are now #DoingTheRightThing and they will be rewarded with our loyalty to them through where we choose to spend our money, just as those who have done the opposite will see the opposite.
Now, in closing, these daily posts of mine are focussed on leadership, behaviour, communications. Please do also note though, that as a Chartered Accountant who spent many years with a focus on the numbers, I am also listening to and advising many businesses on often very tough choices they must make to ensure their business survives now so as to thrive later.
Sometimes this has to mean cutting back, laying loyal employees off, even closing down (for now) temporarily. My advice is always to “know your numbers” to be pragmatic, to do what is necessary, but also to do what you have to do with grace, with care, with humanity. People will always remember how you made them feel.
“when you feel you are bored to death of repeating your message…….you are probably halfway there”.
I am therefore unapologetic at once again repeating my reference to putting Purpose first in the triple bottom line.
Linked to this, I therefore often highlight companies that are following this path. Today a simple reference to yet another such company who are showing that by doing the right thing, by putting purpose first, they can in fact make more profit, and not as it is their primary driver but as it is an outcome of doing the right thing.
Yesterday I wrote a short post on the bravery of entrepreneurs, highlighted by the oft-repeated phrase entrepreneurs give when asked why they started their business: “I couldn’t not do it“.
This came from a focus on when an action is perceived by others as brave, but does not feel brave or courageous at all by the person taking that action.
In the case of entrepreneurs, the compulsion is normally centred around seeing a gap in the market and opportunity to fill that gap and potential to profit commercially from that.
Now, seeing a gap in the market can indeed be a powerful driver or compulsion to act and maintain strength and momentum to carry through an idea into a thriving entrepreneurial business.
However, to truly build a powerful and lasting business that has a sustainable impact for both the owners and team in the business as well as the broader community and world, a more powerful compulsion to act is always in play. This more powerful compulsion is often expressed on reflecting back to the beginnings of the business as something like: “we had to do it”.
In 2020 I will be writing regular posts featuring businesses that are truly Purpose-led and are highly and sustainably successful. This is all part of a mission to build bridges to CEOs, and specifically to address the doubters that believe that Purpose as the core driver for Leadership is only “window dressing”. Whilst I agree that there is more and more “Purpose-Washing” that goes on from cynical CEOs, Boards, Shareholders, by writing about the success stories I hope to open eyes and hearts and reduce some of that cynicism.
Purpose-Led – Redemption Roasters
Our business is successful because our customers and clients buy into our ethos, not because we have no costs.
This week I was invited to meet a friend at one of the locations of the London-based coffee company Redemption Roasters. I gave no thought to the name until I walked in the door and their purpose was clearly shown on boards on the walls.
Redemption are: “a specialty coffee company who believe that we can reduce reoffending in the UK through coffee.”
Redemption roast their coffee in UK prisons. Their FAQ is a wonderful read and the quote at the top here leapt out at me from the FAQ. Oh, and from roasting coffee in ONE UK prison, they now have five coffee shops in London, a training centre, and are in a total of NINE UK Prisons as well as Brook House Immigration Removal Centre. I repeat their quote:
Our business is successful because our customers and clients buy into our ethos, not because we have no costs.
I’m a believer in #OpenLeadership and, in particular, Leading from Purpose (see my core post on this here). For 2020 I’ve also decided to seek out case studies of successful businesses and write around them under the theme “Purpose-Led” with the first one this week: “Purpose-Led – from 13 people to 6 million“, where I also wrote: “This is all part of a mission to build bridges to CEOs, and specifically to address the doubters that believe that Purpose as the core driver for Leadership is only “window dressing”. “
Now, I have always believed in the new triple bottom line as a model for leaders, but in the last year or so I have come to believe that the climate crisis will be THE catalyst to move more and more CEOs, Boards, Shareholders to truly shift their “WHY” to one focussed on Purpose, People, Planet before Profit.
What makes me believe this? Simple. Ironically it is self-interest that will drive this shift. Sometimes it takes a massive crisis to drive massive shifts in behaviour, with such massive shifts changing how investment and business is conducted around the world.
Ten years ago, in their first step as a company, Holstee’s founders, Dave, Mike and Fabian, sat together on the steps of Union Square in New York to write down how they define success. The goal was to create something they could reflect back on if they ever felt stuck or found themselves living according to someone else’s definition of happiness. The result was the Holstee manifesto, which went super-viral.
I love the idea of defining what success is at the very beginning of a company. Steve Jobs said that Apple was here to “put a dent in the universe” in the garage with Steve Wozniak, ie at the very beginning.
I also love supporting leaders and their organisations connect to their Purpose and what it means for everyone in and connected to them and how it can drive success far more effortlessly as it also creates powerful alignment and clarity across the business.
What’s your manifesto, your definition of success?
I leave you with the Holstee manifesto lifestyle video and wording.
..The growing demand for a fairer, more caring form of capitalism has also given rise to a related phenomenon: the emergence of the purpose-driven consultant.
Over recent years, a cottage industry of advisory firms has sprung up, all promising to help companies on this “journey” (a favourite phrase) towards a more purposeful, less profit-centric model of business.
In the spirit of business-as-unusual, their approach is refreshingly unorthodox. “Bold”, “heartfelt” and “emotionally involved” are among the defining characteristics..
Count me in as one of those “purpose-driven consultants” supporting brave leaders on that transformative journey to putting purpose ahead of profit.
The opening paragraph of my home page reads (note bold type at the end):
Command-and-control leadership is losing its grip. A new way is emerging: #OpenLeadership, embracing change as constant, encouraging individual thought, relying on intuition more than data, fluidity more than hierarchy, trust more than fear, and putting the common good ahead of profit.
Oh, and as I constantly say, by putting Purpose+People+Planet first, so many businesses show again and again that this leads to Profit, but as an outcome, not as the primary focus.
So, glad to see this movement building momentum, with this latest article in The Guardian (see link by the quote from Oliver’s article) a recent example reporting on this.
One caveat. Beware of what I have termed “Purpose-washing”, there is much “box-ticking” going on, as there is with ESG/CSR/SDG focus already.
Taking the Business Roundtable statement quoted in the article, I’m skeptical about their motives, boxes feel like they are being ticked right now.
So, if you are truly drawn towards a new way of leading, let’s talk. I’ll listen, then I’ll call it as I see it. If you are truly up for this, I’ll be with you every step. If you are not, I’ll tell you that is what I see. Perhaps call it a “Purpose Check”.
There is wisdom in a minute of intensely focused contemplation.
Today sharing a post from Ed Duggar, a wise human I had the good fortune of meeting last year through “mi hermana”, Rosie von Lila as we all came together in NYC to support one of her “What Comes Now” live events
Ed is deeply passionate about taking his experience and skills in the field of investment capital and demonstrating (as he has, repeatedly, throughout his career) that one can invest capital to scale businesses, gain excellent returns AND address key challenging social and environmental issues AND addressing structural biases that radically limit access to such capital to women, people of colour and other less represented groups.
He and his business partner Julianne Zimmerman follow this purpose and passion through their business, Reinventure Capital. As part of this, they write regular blog posts, and today am sharing a recent post from Ed on “The Wisdom Within a Minute”. To cut to the “punchline” of the story that follows, Ed asks and answers a powerful question:
..if only given a tiny little minute — didn’t choose it, had to use it, must give account if I abused it — but that minute had an eternity of ripple effects within it, what would my decision be?
Perhaps the best answer is the one we knew was right to begin with, when free of considerations of lost favor or personal retribution. Powerful decisions full of values we believe in, that stand the test of the time we live in.
Whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
Over the years I have been introduced to many leaders and organisations who have either brought in consultants to help them develop their strategic plan or have done it themselves using an established format. What they have in common is that their (usually long and detailed) Strategic Plan literally and figuratively “sits on the shelf”. They’ve felt frustrated that after all the work done to produce and launch it, people have disengaged and, as a result, it “sits on the shelf”, gathering dust, potential unrealised.
They then talk to a peer or other trusted contact who knows and has worked with me, and that person tells them I can help them unlock that potential. In filling this niche, I’ll highlight three things:
Bravery – often the missing link
Brevity – getting the essence of their strategy down to “one page”
Purpose – Strategy must link to Vision and, critically, to Purpose.
Of these, whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.
In January this year, I wrote a series of articles around rethinking the purpose of the corporation, then moved towards rethinking the “triple bottom line” (that dates from 1994) to the “new triple bottom line”, expressed graphically above. The article that captures that and links to my earlier posts is:
“..the objective of economic policy should be collective well-being: how happy and healthy a population is, not just how wealthy a population is.”
~ Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, TED Summit, Edinburgh, July 2019
As UK government and politics, in general, continue to flail along with no clear sense of direction or what success would look like, earlier this week, on the day that the new Prime Minister chose to visit Scotland, a TED Talk that was given last week by the First Minister of Scotland was released. What a stark contrast in leadership it offered and in what two countries (the UK overall and Scotland separately) seek to measure.
Long-time readers will note that in amongst the shorter and often more eclectic daily posts I intersperse longer and deeper reads, often around Economics and, more specifically the future of both Economics and Capitalism in service of the broader society.
So, today share the video and transcript of Ms Sturgeon’s powerful talk, then connect that to some earlier posts and thoughts of my own on what we measure.