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”.
My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.
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.
A spiral of openness and trust spiral, where both elements feed each other to higher and higher heights.
Trust is at the core of all relationships.
My underlying theme on this site I call #OpenLeadership, as being Open is at the heart of what I see as the new paradigm of Leadership, one of four core attributes detailed on the #BeMoreYou page.
I also love “Virtuous Circles”, my favourite being the one below from Gaping Void and that was the first of many framed prints from Hugh McLeod that filled the walls of our business in Cayman.
So, I love the image above of an Openness and Trust spiral, as a virtuous circle is really a 2D representation of a 3D upwards spiral, where both elements feed each other to higher and higher heights. Trust builds Openness, which builds more Trust, which builds even further Openness etc.
I close with another virtuous circle, that of the “Scale for Impact” model, or “new triple bottom line” where Purpose+People+Planet leads to Profit, which can then be reinvested for Scale to create ever more Impact through that focus on Purpose+People+Planet and so on.
Helping organizations become purposeful companies through leadership, story and culture
What’s the ROI of Purpose? 6 Steps to Take Toward Better Business: Why Purposeful Companies Create Value for All They Serve #BtheChange via @ConsciousCoMag — B Corporation (@BCorporation) June 8, 2019
The universe of people committed to helping leaders lead from Purpose is still a relatively small one, so I loved that I came across this tweet from B Corporation, then when I clicked through, it was by Laurie Bennett of Within People, who I came across at the Meaning Conference last year, having known two of the partners in his business for some time.
In my work I typically support leaders 1:1, with this regularly involving extending this to their teams. As with Within People, we both work with leaders around people, culture, stories, engagement and more. In short, love their work!
In that latter post, I promised that today I’d curate an article by Laurie Bennett, so here it is, chockful of links to real-world examples of businesses that put Purpose first, with Profit not as a driver but an outcome that then allows them to scale their impact.