As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

Original publication in weforum.org on December 2nd 2019

A. The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation.

In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.

 

  • i. A company serves its customers by providing a value proposition that best meets their needs. It accepts and supports fair competition and a level playing field. It has zero tolerance for corruption. It keeps the digital ecosystem in which it operates reliable and trustworthy. It makes customers fully aware of the functionality of its products and services, including adverse implications or negative externalities.
  • ii. A company treats its people with dignity and respect. It honours diversity and strives for continuous improvements in working conditions and employee well-being. In a world of rapid change, a company fosters continued employability through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.
  • iii. A company considers its suppliers as true partners in value creation. It provides a fair chance to new market entrants. It integrates respect for human rights into the entire supply chain.
  • iv. A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes. It ensures the safe, ethical and efficient use of data. It acts as a steward of the environmental and material universe for future generations. It consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy. It continuously expands the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.
  • v. A company provides its shareholders with a return on investment that takes into account the incurred entrepreneurial risks and the need for continuous innovation and sustained investments. It responsibly manages near-term, medium-term and long-term value creation in pursuit of sustainable shareholder returns that do not sacrifice the future for the present.

B. A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth.

 

It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility.

 

C. A company that has a multinational scope of activities,

not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged, but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.

 

Written by 
Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

Get to the human story to achieve marketing success

Get to the human story to achieve marketing success

Original publication in Forbes on August 15th 2019

These days, successful marketing is about getting to the human story. And to get to the human story, we must think beyond the office walls.

Steve Blank, author of The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products That Win, has said, “In a startup, no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”

It’s true. Inside the confines of your four walls, views are myopic. They breed opinions about what business owners want consumers to believe or buy into. But, those opinions won’t always correlate with facts.

The balance of power has shifted tremendously in consumers’ favor. Brands today cannot exist within their own bubble.

The solution? Spend time with your customers. Ask them questions. From there, the path forward gets clearer: Focus on building a viable product. Continue to solicit feedback and keep iterating upon it.

Ask for customer input, the right way.

Crowdsourcing platforms became a rebellious way for startups to elicit both interest and funding. Although this method won’t ensure that a company ultimately survives, it can help make certain that people will buy what a company takes the time to build. And while inviting the public to help build your company is a truly modern and worthwhile approach, it can backfire when you lose trust.

One of Kickstarter’s largest campaigns proved this to be true. With more than $13 million in funding for the Coolest Cooler, years went by without original backers receiving their coolers. Furthermore, the actual prototype started to sell on Amazon before investors had received their orders. Although the company ultimately survived, those early years soured some relationships.

By participating in or initiating community-building opportunities like these, marketers can help create a sense of belonging while also gathering the input they seek. But it has to feel genuine. Small businesses can host monthly events for consumers who share the same passions and interests. They can play a role in fostering friendships and encouraging fellowship outside of digital spaces while soliciting valuable customer feedback.

Take your cues from where you can.

The good news is small businesses often have a big advantage over large corporations in the quest to solicit and implement customer feedback. The ability to be nimble in communications allows a smaller business to make changes in close to real time — without having to cut through layers of bureaucracy. And while it’s easier for companies to start out with a viable product based on plenty of customer input, it’s not impossible to change courses later

If a reporter does not want to cover a press release about a product launch, ask yourself why. Does your marketing messaging pass an internal sniff test? Will anyone outside the company care? Less-formal data like feedback from conversations is still data nonetheless. Even relaying feedback from a meeting with potential investors can help companies pivot.

Tell people what you want them to do.

The character of Barney Stinson from the long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother prided himself on “having a guy.” That is, he had a recommendation for everything from suits to shoes to tickets. He knew where to find the best of the best; it was part of his identity.

I find that people love giving referrals, even if they’re not as pompous and showboaty as Stinson. Often, they also like to be told how they can help, even if they don’t outright ask. Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to hang a sign on their lawn or refer your services to family and friends. Perhaps they could leave a review on your platform of choice or vote for you in a local competition.

Although small businesses may not have the luxury of conducting formal focus groups, they can participate in an even better feedback loop by engaging daily with the people who love their brand, and then incorporate that feedback into product improvements.

Choose trustworthy channels.

For companies that rely on third-party communications channels, shouting a marketing message won’t work if no one is listening or if they are skeptical about how they are receiving the information. It’s no secret that we are in the age of fake news. And while it’s important we all become fact-checkers before sharing headlines, that means your brand’s content may not be as readily accepted as it was previously.

A recent poll found that 60% of Americans “don’t trust [Facebook] at all to protect personal information.” More succinctly, pollster Micah Roberts reportedly said, “If America was giving social media a Yelp review, a majority would give it zero stars.” 

This should come as a warning shot: Consumers are protective of their information. You’ll have to not only earn their trust, but also work hard to keep it.

As you grow, learn to let go.

Maintaining the same level of communication and trust can be a challenge as your company scales. Small businesses are generally closer to their customers, while large companies tend to get bogged down with customer service protocols. 

Understand that as a company grows, it must learn to let go in order to build long-term sustainability. If daily human interaction now proves too difficult, substitute equally strong benefits in its place (alternate communications channels, company blogs, rewards programs, etc.). 

Growth is always a goal for small businesses and the financial institutions and consumers who invest in them. Scaling your communications strategy can be hard to manage, but should be a risk worth taking. Getting to the human story can help your company break away from the crowd, and it’s an essential part of creating lifelong customers.

Solicit feedback to ensure people will buy what you’re building (and then be sure to deliver). Take cues from every interaction, and remember that feedback loops and referral programs are essential today, no matter how small (or big) your business may be. Choose your communications channels wisely, and as your company grows, learn to let go of channels that no longer support your long-term vision.

Written by Tyler Sharp

4 ways to inspire an ownership mentality in your team

4 ways to inspire an ownership mentality in your team

Original publication on Inside HR on November 27th 2019

Many organisations are going through significant change and transformation, and Anthony Mitchell explains that it is important to hand the reigns to your employees in order to create a significant and impactful shift.

 

Change is the only constant for organisations operating in the cyber-physical age. As a leader, you play a vital role in managing the disruption that can result from this but it’s your employees who are fundamental to ensuring that change within your organisation is successful and sustainable.

How do you engage your people to think like owners, and run with the design and implementation of change and new ways of working? Fostering an ownership mentality is an essential first step, and will ensure your team feels invested enough to voluntarily contribute to and drive change in the organisation.

Here are four ways to inspire an ownership mentality:

1. A defined state of idealism. Allow your employees the time and space to dream about what is possible for the organisation, and identify the gap between their current and ideal future state. This clarity alone can be motivating for employee ownership – people are more likely to devote themselves to a change process if they can define, and are invested in, the outcome. Uncover these insights through multiple channels, such as silent brainstorms, online design hackathons and surveys or focus groups, to maximise input, harness cross-organisation and cross-role collaboration, and generate excitement. Once the future state has been decided, communicate this clearly to the whole of the organisation. Invite and encourage your people to lead you there.

“Know who to mobilise in taking ownership for different aspects of the changes you want to make, by understanding what motivates them”

2. Intrinsic motivation for change. Know who to mobilise in taking ownership for different aspects of the changes you want to make, by understanding what motivates them. For example, those who want to prioritise work-life balance but consistently work overtime are likely candidates for trialling solutions to address this issue. Similarly, an employee who values efficiency but notices that tasks take longer than necessary might be motivated to evaluate and reinvent related processes. Understand your team’s interests, motivators and values. Considered alongside your organisation’s purpose, help them build their case for meaningful change. A sense of purpose is a powerful motivator, so it is important that your people understand how any given shift can contribute to something bigger.

3. Invitation and permission. Within your organisation lies a mountain of potential for creativity and innovation. How often do you truly tap into that potential? Encourage your team at all levels to think outside of the box, to suggest changes and new ways of working. Communicating and encouraging this kind of proactivity is the first step. Create an environment that fosters new thinking, and hire new people that perpetuate this innovative and courageous culture. Does your culture also support ownership? For example, is there a culture of holding oneself and others accountable for actions and commitments, or do employees assume that leaders are ultimately accountable and therefore shy away from responsibility?

Give your team power to determine how an outcome will be fulfilled. Introduce a clear and simple process for ideas to be raised, evaluated and refined, and make sure you build in some time for this kind of thinking to take place. For example, Google is well known for its 20 per cent rule, where employees are encouraged and provided with the means to spend around 20 per cent of their time on side projects. This is how Gmail was created.

“The phrase ‘give as good as you get’ is a golden principle for leaders, particularly when you wish to see people owning change initiatives”

4. Reciprocity. The phrase “give as good as you get” is a golden principle for leaders, particularly when you wish to see people owning change initiatives. Leaders and organisations who go above and beyond for their people are more likely to see this reciprocated in the efforts and commitment of their employees. Likewise, an organisation that is seen to value employee contribution is a beacon for employees to continue making those contributions. For an employee to take ownership over change, or an element of change, leaders need to provide autonomy, trust and resources to both enable and support involvement and drive. Some ways you can achieve this include:

  • Accounting for innovation and change in team KPIs. This will minimise the risk of individuals feeling they are sacrificing their job performance to pursue an initiative that might have real positive impact for your organisation.
  • Offer reward or recognition for employee contribution to change ideas or actions.
  • Take the time to listen (e.g. a monthly or quarterly forum with no restrictions on seniority or role).
  • Evaluate the resources (including time, human capital and technology) available to team members.

As a leader, change starts with you, but to really create an impactful shift, hand the reigns to your employees. It is your people who will ultimately see these changes through to success.

Written by  

Why Learn & Adapt are the highest valued soft skills you should teach your kids

Why Learn & Adapt are the highest valued soft skills you should teach your kids

Original publication on Medium.com on December 16th 2018

The jobs of the future don’t exist yet — but we know they’ll require some serious social skills

An education is supposed to prepare you for the future. Traditionally, that meant learning certain facts and skills, like when explorers arrived in America or how to calculate an answer using long division. Today, curricula have shifted to focus on a more global and digital world, engaging students in subjects like cultural history, basic computing skills, and writing code.

Yet, the challenges our kids will face will be much different than those of our generation. Most of what a typical student learns in school today will no longer be relevant by the time they graduate from college. A study at the University of Oxford found that 47 percent of today’s jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years.

Over the next few decades, much of what we “know” about the world will no longer be true. The computers of the future will not be digital. Software code itself is disappearing, or at least becoming far less relevant. Many of what are considered good jobs today will be either automated or devalued. We need to rethink how we prepare our kids for the world to come.

Understanding Systems

The subjects we learned in school were mostly static. The answer to two plus two was always four. Interpretations of certain subjects may have differed from place to place and evolved over time, but we were taught that the world was based on certain facts. We were evaluated on the basis of knowing those facts.

Yet, as the complexity theorist Sam Arbesman has pointed out, facts have a half-life. As the accumulation of knowledge accelerates, those half-lives are shrinking. For example, when we learned computer programming in school, it was usually in BASIC, a now mostly defunct language. Today, Python is the most popular language, but will likely not be a decade from now.

The best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to learn and adapt.

Computers themselves will be very different as well, based less on the digital code of ones and zeros and more on quantum laws and the human brain. We will likely store less information on silicon and more in DNA. There’s no way to teach kids how these things will work because nobody, not even experts, is quite sure of that yet.

Kids today need to learn less about the present and more about the systems future technologies will be based on, such as quantum mechanics, genetics, and the logic of code. Economists have consistently found that routine jobs are most likely to be automated. The best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to learn and adapt.

Applying Empathy and Design Skills

While machines are taking over many high-level tasks, such as medical analysis and legal research, there are some things they will never do. A computer will never strike out in a Little League game, have its heart broken, or see its child born. So it is very unlikely, if not impossible, that a machine will be able to relate to a human like other humans can. That absence of empathy makes it hard for machines to design products and processes that will maximize enjoyment and utility for humans. So design skills are likely to be in high demand for decades to come as basic production and analytical processes are increasingly automated.

We’ve already seen this process take place with regard to the Internet. In the early days, it was a very technical field. You had to be a highly skilled engineer to make a website work. Today, however, building a website is something any fairly intelligent high schooler can do — and much of the value has shifted to front-end tasks, like designing the user experience.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, our experiences with technology will become far more immersive, and that will increase the need for good design. For example, conversational analysts (yes, that’s a real job) are working with designers to create conversational intelligence for voice interfaces. Furthermore, virtual reality will clearly be much more design intensive than video ever was.

The Ability to Communicate Complex Ideas

Much of the recent emphasis in education has been around STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) and proficiency in those areas is certainly important for today’s students to understand the world around them. However, many STEM graduates are finding it difficult to find good jobs. On the other hand, the ability to communicate ideas effectively is becoming a highly-prized skill.

Consider Amazon, one of the most innovative and technically proficient organizations on the planet. However, a key factor to its success is its writing culture. The company is so fanatical about the ability to communicate that developing good writing skills is essential to building a successful career there.

Think about Amazon’s business and it becomes clear why this is the case. Sure, it employs highly adept engineers. But in order to create a truly superior product, those people need to collaborate closely with designers, marketers, business development executives, and others. To coordinate all of that activity and keep everybody focused on delivering a specific, high-quality experience, communication must be clear and coherent. So, while learning technical subjects like math and science is always a good idea, studying subjects that delve into the art of communication — like literature, history, and philosophy — is just as important.

Collaborating and Working in Teams

Traditionally, schoolwork has been based on individual accomplishment. Growing up, you were supposed to study at home, come in prepared, and take your test without help. If you looked at your friend’s paper, it was called “cheating” and you got in a lot of trouble for it. You were taught to be accountable for achievements on your own merits.

Yet, consider how the nature of work has changed, even in highly technical fields. In 1920, most scientific papers were written by sole authors; by 1950, that had changed and co-authorship became the norm. Today, the average paper has four times as many authors as it did then, the work being done is far more interdisciplinary, and it is done across greater physical distances than in the past.

Make no mistake: The high-value work today is being done in teams. This will only increase as more jobs become automated. The jobs of the future will not depend as much on knowing facts or crunching numbers as on humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines. Collaboration will increasingly become a competitive advantage.

That’s why we need to pay attention not only to how our kids work and achieve academically, but also to how they play, resolve conflicts, and make others feel supported and empowered. Value has shifted from cognitive skills to social skills. As kids will increasingly be able to learn complex subjects through technology, the most important class may well be recess.

Perhaps most of all, we need to be honest with ourselves and make peace with the fact that our kids’ educational experience will not — and should not — mirror our own. The world they face will be far more complex than that. It will be much more difficult to navigate than anything we could imagine back in the days of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Written by Greg Satell

Consider these 4 points to inspire and retain your best millennials !

Consider these 4 points to inspire and retain your best millennials !

Original publication in Gallup.com on October 28th 2019

For years now, millennials have been criticized as job hoppers, easily bored and over-entitled.

The critique is so widespread and well-known that it hardly seems worth investigating. It should be — because it’s not true. Millennials are as likely as anyone else to be loyal to their workplace.

If they get what they need from it. But most, apparently, do not.

According to Gallup data, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. The national engagement average is 34%, which means many more millennials than their elders feel uninspired, unmotivated and emotionally disconnected from their workplace.

Those are the millennials with the least reason to stay, so they leave. In droves. Millennials are three times more likely than their elders to say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, 10 percentage points less likely to expect to be with their current employer in a year, the most likely to be looking for a new job, and the most open to whatever opportunities might come along.

What Millennials Want

This may seem mystifying to business leaders — why would millennials be so disengaged? They’re treated the same as everyone else, so why would they leave?

The answer is in the question. Millennials don’t want to be treated like everyone else. Their elders may be satisfied (though satisfaction is a poor workplace metric) with a mediocre job, but millennials are not. They’ll keep looking until they get what they need, which includes:

A sense of purpose: More so than others, millennials are motivated by mission and purpose. Of those who say they don’t know what their organization stands for and what makes it different, only 30% say they plan on staying in their position for at least another year.

High-quality management: 58% of millennials say “quality of manager” and “quality of management” are extremely important to them when applying for a new job. For a millennial, their job is their life, so a bad manager will quickly drive them away.

Chances of advancement: Perhaps because they have lower net worth and higher student debt than other generations, millennials (50%, compared with 42% of Gen Xers and 40% of baby boomers) are most likely to say advancement is extremely important when looking for a new job.

Millennials are as likely as anyone else to be loyal to their workplace.

Not coincidentally, what millennials want is the same thing everybody wants in a job. Millennials just want it more and are less likely to wait around to get it. Their refusal to settle for less increases businesses’ turnover costs, which bleeds $30.5 billion from the U.S. economy every year, according to Gallup estimates.

However, leaders who focus on employees’ growth and advancement, who select managers for talent, and who know their company’s purpose can engage millennials.

Those who do will keep millennials.

Those who don’t will train another company’s employees — and wonder why millennials just won’t stay.

Written by Jennifer Robison

4 levers to grow as a purpose-driven compagny

4 levers to grow as a purpose-driven compagny

Original publication in Forbes on October 31st 2019

As untamed capitalism and corporate greed come under increasingly fierce and widespread siege, the business world has begun to respond, loudly.

In August, the elite CEOs of the Business Roundtable lobbying group released a statement promising to move away from the decades-old corporate belief in “shareholder primacy” toward a more holistic, purpose-driven approach that “serves all Americans.”

Let’s be clear: this move is a huge milestone in the recent history of management. After all, the signers of this statement lead organizations that take in a combined $7 trillion in revenue and employ 15 million people. However, whether the group’s stated goal of shifting commitments actually transpires remains to be seen.

The advantage of purpose-driven companies

Still, the business roundtable’s announcement, while greeted excitedly, shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise. Over the 11 years since the start of the fiscal crisis, more and more attention has been paid to the ethical, social and environmental responsibilities of co~rporations.

Yet businesses that do operate with a sense of purpose and of bettering society reap economic benefits. Recent studies have shown that the performance of companies with a clear sense of purpose grew by 10 times the median rate of companies on the S&P 500. 

What’s more, purposeful organizations appeal to younger people just entering the workforce. This generation has grown up connected in unprecedented ways by technology to a global community, alert to what threatens it and attuned to social justice. To reach these new or future workers of the Greta Thunberg generation, companies can’t ignore social ethics.

How to promote purpose throughout your business

Purpose is a word that packs a punch. It’s an idea whose meaning, while lofty, may be easily grasped. But attaining a sense of purpose can prove daunting, especially in the context of business and its more practical economic goals.

This can be seen in the gap between society’s expectations of businesses and its perception of results: just 39% of people think that organizations work with the goal in mind of improving the quality of life and well-being of their employees and surrounding communities.

It was with this challenge in mind that I, along with my colleagues A. Lleo-de-Nalda, C. Rey, A. Alloza and N. Pitta, set out to research the promotion of purpose in business. And to develop what we call the Purpose Strength Model compiling the successful techniques and strategies drawn from analyses of 25 purposeful businesses.

How can CEOs and managers promote purposeful business? It’s helpful to first recognize the three pillars of purpose: 

1) Coherence, or the alignment between what a company says and what it does.

2) Authenticity, or the true motivation and intention behind the things a company does. 

3) Integrity, or the naturally occurring behaviors that help maintain a purposeful drive. 

Then, it’s necessary to understand the first and most fundamental step toward building and sustaining purpose, which is constructing a shared purpose that enters the minds and hearts of all employees and inspires them to do their best, most purposeful, work.

How exactly can this communal purpose be achieved? Our model presents four factors, or levers, to attend to while sowing purpose in your organization: 

1. Strategy. The company should define a strategy for the development of a clearly defined purpose. This may sound simple, but it requires deep, prolonged reflection and understanding of corporate responsibility and ethical objectives. This strategy should include specific mile markers to be met along the road to purpose. 

2. Leadership. Company leaders must be depended upon to capably transmit the company’s purpose to employees so that it enters their minds and hearts. This leadership includes directors who promote purpose from the top of the organization and, so that purpose permeates each employee, leaders at all levels and divisions of the company.

3. Management. Systems of management and organizational procedures that guide day-to-day work and ensure that purpose is remembered each day. The organizations we studied saw fit to integrate the company’s purpose into all daily aspects of work including budget planning, talent recruitment and performance assessments. 

4. Clear communication is paramount to demonstrating that what the organization is, what the organization says it wants to be, and what it is perceived to be, all align. 

By following the model of companies who are ethically and financially successful, managers can help lead their companies into a thriving, purposeful future.

By Nuria Chinchilla