The communications team this week asked me if I could write an article that focused on the #WordOfTheWeek… #Impact. As I was deciding how to position and what to write about, our social content for the week started to generate some conversation that led me to a change of direction. There is a lot of talk about how movements like Certified B Corporations https://goo.gl/CdKcW5 are initiatives that C-Suite executives need to buy into and roll out from the top down. I agree that it expedites the process and certainly makes it easier if the organization as a whole shifts or consciously formalizes efforts. Some executives are still not convinced that you can profit through incorporating purpose into every facet of their businesses. This is where individual teams can create front-line, grassroots movement and pivots that can have a most dramatic impact.
Just 1 Person
The larger the organization, the more difficult it is for the organization to pivot and generally the more individual contributors feel their impact is less likely to play a significant role on the organization as a whole. That is true in so many ways but it also represents the greatest opportunities. Small changes in a large organization can have greater overall measurable impact. Further to that, many individuals, all incorporating purpose into their impact measurement can lead to grassroots changes and shifts in direction for even the largest organizations.
What Can I Do?
The age old question! Little things. When we look at what gets measured as part of the B Corporation certification, there are some areas you cannot control as an individual contributor. Of the 5 facets of the organization measured (Environment, Team, Customers, Community and Governance), Governance is the only part of the business that the average team member has little influence on. The remaining four facets of the business that are being measured can be heavily influenced by team members opting to make small changes.
Step 1 – Authenticity
Our challenge to you would be to look at each of Environment, Team, Customers and Community and pick one area that is of genuine importance to you. Do not pick something just because you think it is right or going to be the popular choice, pick it because it genuinely matters most to you. While I hear a lot about some of our environmental, team member or client policies and procedures at TACK10, our community is the pillar that I tend to focus on the most on. It is not that the other 3 pillars are less important. If I am being completely authentic, community is the pillar that aligns with the impact I personally want to have and is the most challenging for our company to instigate change in. Part of the challenge comes from how broadly and entrenched this pillar is in today’s business environment. The by-product of a focus on community is that as we move the needle forward, we also inherently deliver further value towards our environmental, team and customer pillars.
Authenticity also extends to those who do not feel measuring impact for all stakeholders is something shareholders should do. This does not mean removing purpose from the equation. Given that 91% of millennials are willing to change the brands they purchase based on wanting to support brands whose values align with their own, educated business minds see purpose as a manner in which to differentiate and profit. This does not actually bother me at all. What I appreciate is that these individuals are being authentic and while focusing on profit are inevitably also having a positive social or environmental impact.
Step 2 – Immediacy
Look for that one thing that you can change within 30 days. The timeline is somewhat arbitrary, but the focus has to be on choosing a new behaviour that 1) will have a positive impact and 2) is thought out in terms of how that will work within the confines and current environment that exists. I was recently reminded of a great example of how important this is. At a recent event I was speaking with a manager at a large consumer brand and she had indicated that her focus was on getting her team to go paperless. This was a great initiative. It can represent both a cost savings and a positive impact of team performance as teams that operate paperless tend to have higher average team member performance. Not to mention the environmental impact which is pretty easy to comprehend. Great in theory! The one problem is that this company still has a global policy that a written record of all works must documented. While these are policies that are antiquated, this specific team member cannot change that requirement.
It is crucial that you look at your business area as a whole and understand or address potential road blocks to change before embarking on it. While we touched on change that you can implement in 30 days, we also suggest looking for changes where you can measure performance towards a goal with daily or weekly performance measures. There are two good reasons for this. 1) Change is always going to be met with skepticism. Showing measurable results quickly will remove much of the skepticism. 2) Seeing early results is motivating. There is nothing worse than changing a behaviour and having to wait months to see if the change has had impact.
Step 3 – Honesty
Do not be afraid to fail or talk about failures. For complete transparency, TACK10 does not hit all of our goals. Right now, we are missing on a few of our Environmental targets such as moving to a paperless operation. While this is great in principle, the fact is that it does not work in every facet of our business right now. Missing a goal like this inherently has an upside… our desire to hit such a goal and missing it still means that we have reduced our printing and paper consumption by approximately 90%. The environmental impact is positive but so is the economic impact. We have not changed the goal for ourselves and set a lower bench mark, we simply have a longer-term goal that we are actively working towards daily. The same could be said for our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)… to have a direct and positive impact on the human experience for at least 20 million Canadians by 2025. As the name indicates, the target is audacious. I won’t stop till we hit it but missing such a target would not the end of the world. We cannot shy away from reporting on misses and focus only on the wins. If TACK10 can only positively impact 5 million Canadians, that in itself would be a great feat.
The Final Bell
Be Authentic. Pick areas of impact that you genuinely align with… Be Immediate. Chose action items that you can work through and implement within 30 days. Be Honest. Share the wins, share the losses. Major change and impact are most effective as a culmination of many smaller wins.
Group President and CEO
Described as a growth agent, James is a modern day game changer known for delivering 10x performance across business, marketing and sales KPIs. As a sought after strategist; James believes and has demonstrated time and again that it is not about growing successful businesses anymore, true success is attained when you challenge and impact an industry as a whole.