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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strategic CSR - Values

The article in the url below talks in detail about the idea of a Common Purpose organization. In other words, companies:

“… where employees are happy, have high energy, great morale, and speak the same organizational language? Where people know not only what the organization’s values are, but use those values as their basis for making decisions?

More specifically, the article reviews a book by Joel Kurtzman (‘Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary’):

The book is essentially a collection of leadership stories from Kurtzman’s interviews and research that illustrate how those in charge have developed or lost common purpose in their organizations, or whose styles precluded its possibility.

For example:

Kurtzman refers often to the success of 175-year-old FM Global, a commercial insurance company, and its current chairman and CEO Shivan Subramaniam in building a common-purpose company. The company is united around the purpose that most losses are preventable. One-third of employees are engineers and the other two-thirds are trained to think like engineers. Their focus is help clients identify and mitigate risks that would impact property, product or lives.

The idea of a values-based company is powerful. Having such common purpose serves two main goals—First, it makes work meaningful for employees who are are contributing in ways that match their own values; and second, it ensures effort is maximized as the chance of people working at cross-purposes is reduced.

Similar ideas were expressed in a recent article in The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/21530171), noting how firms, such as Walmart, are trying to instill a values-led culture firm-wide:

AS WALMART grew into the world’s largest retailer, its staff were subjected to a long list of dos and don’ts covering every aspect of their work. Now the firm has decided that its rules-based culture is too inflexible to cope with the challenges of globalisation and technological change, and is trying to instill a “values-based” culture, in which employees can be trusted to do the right thing because they know what the firm stands for.