A successful company continues to live its purpose by a set of values that are rock solid. These values make up the “how” part in the three questions. How defines the behaviour and attitude of a company’s people. There is no universal accepted set of correct core values. You discover “how” by looking within. You cannot fake values. You either have them or you don’t. Values are not open to change – they must stand the test of time.
A company typically will try to articulate about five things that it holds sacred. At Internet Solutions (IS), for example, we believe in professionalism, customer service, integrity, empowerment and fun as our core values. We strive always to be professional, both internally and externally. We endeavour to be customer focused, always acting with integrity. We attempt to empower our staff by listening and by sharing. And we try to work hard and play hard. And we always stand firm in our beliefs, never compromising what we represent, and never violating our integrity. We are very passionate about our company and what it stands for. Our intense belief in our value system and our purpose is what drives this passion.
Like many companies today, the organization I am describing here is largely a people business. It is about people sharing ideas with people, it is about people proposing solutions to people, and it is about people working together. It is about relationships. We practice professional behaviour at all times, both internally with staff, and externally with customers. And we always strive for win-win relationships.
I have learnt who works for whom in our organization. Whenever someone joins the company we have to work harder and listen more. I want all of the people who come on board to win. If they win, I win. It is that simple. And for them to win they need to be empowered. Their ideas need to be heard. And they need to make a difference. My job is to make sure that they can make a huge difference.
Checking out at the grocery store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my day.”
The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
The older lady said that she was right — our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. She went on to explain:
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they were REALLY recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.
We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But the cashier was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.
Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. And, kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.
We exercised by WORKING so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
We drank from a drinking fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost more than a house did before the “green thing.”
We had one electrical outlet in each room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?
In the year 2005, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said, “Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans.”
He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, “You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights.”
Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard – but no Ark. “Noah!” He roared, “I’m about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?”
“Forgive me, Lord,” begged Noah, “but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I’ve been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbours claim that I’ve violated the neighbourhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision.
Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark’s move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.
Getting the wood was another problem. There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls – but no go!
When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodation was too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space.
Then the EPA ruled that I couldn’t build the Ark until they’d conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.
I’m still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I’m supposed to hire for my building crew. Immigration and Naturalization is checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work.
The trades unions say I can’t use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience.
To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.
So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark.”
Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, “You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?”
“No,” said the Lord. “The government beat me to it.”
It’s not easy for advertisers nowadays. Gone is the Golden Age of advertising, when there was a monopoly on consumer attention. There’s only so much prime time space available on TV, billboards and in major newspapers. This is also incredibly expensive to iterate enough times to get noticed. Traditional advertising platforms are more likely to be seen as (expensive) wallpaper. A new style of marketing is required to create engagement, and in the digital realm, there’s plenty of room for this.
It used to be all about the advertising agency. The father figure and purveyor of cool, telling people what to think and buy. We’ve now moved to a consumer-empowered market, where the customer is the centre of the universe.
Business should focus on making a difference and not only on making money. And leaders need to listen more than anyone else. Furthermore, money and motivation have nothing to do with each other. Now, if you think these ideas are crazy, then how about this: It does not take a great idea to start a great company. In fact, starting a company based on an idea might actually be a bad idea.
Yes, please do not read this from the angle of whether or not you agree or disagree. Don’t read to agree or disagree. This stifles learning and this is a big challenge in these modern times of constant distraction. Give your full attention to understanding. If you fully understand and you disagree then that is your right. Having understood a different viewpoint, you are entitled to disagree. One has to learn to understand viewpoints with which you don’t agree with. You don’t have to hear what you agree with – what you agree with you know already. What one has to study and learn are viewpoints with which you don’t agree.