Month: July 2011

This Week through the “Purpose” filter

This article was originally posted in CMSWire

Last week at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, I described purpose as the magnetic north that can align the thinking and collaborative instincts of your team or organization. As such, I’m a strong believer that the quality, strength and pervasiveness of purpose in your organization is a key (perhaps the key) determinant of success.
Its the current filter I read everything with, so let me share with you how some recent corporate news looks to me through this lens:

OpenText – OpenText, I should say first of all, is my employer, but I do not speak for them. They (I should say “we”) are investing in a remarkable speaker series on the role of purpose in an organization – what it is, how to get it, what to do with it, the value that it brings. We announced this at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. The first installment of this series is happening on July 11, in New York city. Its a breakfast with the inspiring Simon Sinek (of TED and and “Start With Why Fame). If you are in or near the city, you owe it to yourself to be there. RSVP here. (If you think this is a good idea – please, please support it – then I can do more of them!)

Walmart – Walmart hit me twice this week. First, the dismissal of the class action suit against them by 1.5 million female employees as too big to adjudicate is a watershed in employment and class action law. Steven Colbert’s “Word” on it is an incisive (hilarious) take on one side of it. The second is a blog post by the aforementioned Simon Sinek exploring the roots of their organizational purpose, questioning if they’d forgotten it, and the amazing impact they can and do have on quality of the average American’s life when they make decisions on what to stock, how to price it and source it. Their environmental initiatives have changed standard business practices of them and their massive supply chain – the LA Times reported on an 81% reduction in landfill waste from their pilot program in California. The demands they make on their suppliers have a measurable impact on the economy and quality of life in the United States, and its an opportunity they should not ignore. Simon’s post (yeah, I guess I’m a fan) is here:

Google – Google+ has launched to fanfare that rivals a Steve Jobs keynote. Will it be better than wave? Will it “beat facebook”? Will people use it three weeks from now? Not sure. Many people I respect have already published analyses and opinions on it – many like it. I have barely begun to play with it, so I don’t yet have an opinion on the product itself. The media around it is interesting though. Many people are positioning it as doing battle with “Facebook” or their “answer to Facebook”. I recognize that Facebook is a game-changing success – but why is google going after it? And are they really? Google’s mission is to ”
organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – and they’ve been rather successful with it. Is Google+ in that mold? Is it part of their “try lots of stuff” strategy? Or is it that they want to beat facebook? I think the answer to that will have a very big impact on its eventual success.

Chrysler– I was intrigued by Chrysler’s Jeep ads last year that had the tagline “The things we make, make us.” and talked about a “return to American craftsmanship”. Their Super Bowl ad “Imported From Detroit” was stunning. It blew my socks off. When has an ad ever done that? Audi even tried to imitate it. The message was the same, if more visceral, gritty and beautiful – the re-invention and return of American craftsmanship and the celebration of the deep-rooted American automotive expertise, and the rebirth of Detroit. Watch it again. It might be one of the best ads ever made. Not for nothing, Chrysler’s financial performance has radically improved this year. They (with the help of Fiat) paid off their $10.5 billion dollar federal bailout loan, and reported their first profit since 2006. Coincidence?

TED Talks – The website offshoot of TED – “Ideas worth spreading” turned 5 this year. In that time they have logged 500 Million views on a mere 1,000 videos. And we aren’t talking kittens, porn, babies or angry birds, here. They have educated, inspired and set the bar for thought leadership everywhere. When I was being prepped for the Enterprise 2.0 conference keynote a few weeks ago they said ” it should be like a TED-talk.” I knew what they meant, too. TED has had the biggest, broadest impact on the thinking class (including anyone who desires to be included) than anything I can recall in my lifetime. Ideas Worth Spreading. If you haven’t yet been exposed, here are their 20 most popular talks of all time. But be warned – if you start watching, you might not be able to stop.

Max Burger – I had never heard of Max Burger before today. But Andrew Winston published an article on this Swedish company on the HBR blog. They added a single word to their mission statement – “Fresh” – and it has made a very significant difference to its menu, its community and its bottom line – averaging more than 3x the profits of its competitors.

McDonalds – On our last family road trip in April, I wondered what would happen if mcDonald’s had a mission statement that read something like “Fast, fun, tasty, nourishing food for a world on the go.” Imagine the impact that might have on their menu, how they sourced their food, how they cook it. Imagine if McDonalds meals were 1% more healthful – what impact would that have on childhood obesity, adult diabetes or heart disease? My husband argued that it would require fundamental changes in how McDonald’s did things and would threaten their business model. But McDonalds already excels at innovative menus and sourcing. The Economist published a fascinating article on this a couple of weeks back. So it becomes a matter of will and of focus. Of purpose.

Happy RamblesHappy Rambles is perhaps my favorite tech find this year. Its very low-tech tech, but it touches my life. It describes itself as a “Gratitude Journal for Life” which is a bit on the touchy-feely side for me. But. Every night at about 8pm – that’s bedtime prep time for those of you who have school-age kids like me – I get an email that says “What are you grateful for today”. And almost every night, I poll my household – including various dinner guests, etc – for what made them grateful today. My daughter usually says “family” which always inspires me to add “Zoe” to my list. The point is, in my frantic, disorganized, nearly a-spiritual, often fractious life, I’ve found a moment each day to get my head out of my bottom (zoe doesn’t like it when I use other words for this part of my anatomy) and be grateful. And I can share that with the people around me. I’ve never gotten a bad response to this – including from some current and former high ranking government officials that pass through here.

Dear HappyRambles – lets get a business edition going – what kind of impact do you want to have on the world today? Send the email at about 9:00 am.

Dear reader – what’s your purpose filter catching? Please share.