In a world facing chaos and recession it is instinctive to turn to our heroes for help and solace. Fantasy can be a great comfort, but reality can also be motivating, as it was when the UK’s real “C”, Sir Alex Younger, outgoing head of MI6, was asked what his purpose was. His answer – ‘operationalising our values’!
Never has it been more important to understand the shift that is occurring in societies around the world and how best to position oneself in the face of that change. Being true to your values and committed to your organisational purpose experience is key.
Executive evidence supports this. Discussion at our recent Navigator Forum – CGA’s Senior Executive strategic discussion group –highlighted the success brands were having when they stayed true to their core purpose and values.
A global cruise brand recognising the importance of supporting the communities they visit to ensure their out-of-season sustainability
One of the UK’s leading grocers establishing a dedicated Foundation across Africa to enhance standards and ensure a % of revenues is paid directly to local workers
A global drinks brand establishing an innovative social purpose initiative to drive entrepreneurship at a local level
A highly successful and disruptive international legal business embracing the values of its associate community to drive legal access, for all at affordable prices
A leading Finance house that has social responsibility embedded into its DNA, based on a core belief that more socially aware investors will drive better long term investments.
What is common in all of these cases is a clearly understood purpose driving the business. But the point of difference for these organisations is the way that the purpose is delivered – by staying true to the values of the business and delivering these values authentically at every touch point in the customer experience and when engaging with stakeholders, employees and associates.
This is not new news! Authenticity has been an increasingly important theme for some years. However, the challenge for business now is to recognise that as customers attitudes and behaviours are radically changing, and the business environment is in a state of continual flux they have to be unwavering in staying true to their purpose and values. Brave businesses will make difficult decisions that, on-the-face of it, might not be best for the short-term balance sheet, but in the long run will deliver increased customer and employee loyalty and profitability, if they stay true to their core purpose.
No longer is it good enough to think of your audience as just customers! We are seeing the rise of the Citizen – a more socially active individual or community focused on their rights and fairness. It is expected that a brand has a voice, and that is stands up for what it believes in, demonstrating this through its own behaviour, not just paying lip service to the latest social or political debate.
The way brands communicate is also having to change. Even those who have a voice and clearly articulated values are having to work much harder to be heard. Saying nothing is no longer an option. Social activism is growing and staying in tune with changing customer sentiment and adjusting your voice accordingly is increasingly important. The organisations that will survive and thrive, will increasingly innovative in the way they engage their audience whilst staying true to their core values and purpose.
We are heading into a very different environment very quickly. No-one really knows where we will end up, but what is certain is that it is not where we are today, or yesterday. The future demands that we are far more finely attuned to customer, citizen and community sentiment.
To ignore the rise of social activism, in whatever form it takes, it to misjudge the mood of society. Relationships need to be nurtured and respected. Opinion needs to be respected. Values need to be re-appraised and reframed around current expectations.
Above all, staying true to your purpose allows you to deliver desired customer outcomes at the most appropriate cost. But to be sustainable in the face of the looming recession demands that brands continuously deliver authentic solutions at every experience interaction.
And to do that, in the words of “C”, one needs to operationalise your values across the whole organisation so that your purpose resonates in every fibre of the organisation. If it’s good enough for Mr Bond, then perhaps it can be good enough for the rest of us!!
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