Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
The KZN Lean Congress powered by Vodacom was by all accounts most successful. Attendees are all, I suspect, still trying to digest all the content and the wisdom shared, I know that I am.
One of the things that has stayed with me was what Kris Pederson, leader of EY’s Strategic Transformation Team in the United States, had to say about purpose-led companies. Pederson is also the Americas Leader for “Purpose Led” Transformation. She spoke about how companies need to turn to “purpose” and “authenticity” in order to engage their customers and their people. She made the point that it is important to understand that customers are no longer passive members of an audience, rather they are active participants in a community. They want to belong, to engage and to influence. People don’t want to feel good about your purpose, they want to share in it. They want it to be their purpose too.
She used the mission statements of two footwear giants to illustrate her point. Consider Adidas’s mission statement: “The Adidas Group strives to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle. We are committed to continuously strengthening our brands and products to improve our competitive position”. And now Nike’s: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Think about your response to both statements, and which one you feel most part of?
Mission statements don’t necessarily reflect a company’s purpose, but they do represent approach to market. When defining your purpose, it is important to realise that there are different kinds of purpose. Sometimes it’s about values (who you are and what you stand for) and other times it is about value (how you benefit others). According to Pederson, one should aim to align values and value. In other words, have your value to society or community enhance your value to your customers and people. Adidas emphasises value and values, but Nike focuses on people’s interests and a sense of who they are.
Most leaders tend to think of purpose as a purpose “for”, but actually what is needed, is a purpose “with”. People do not want to occupy a position at the end of “for”, they want to share your purpose. Adidas is “for” and Nike is “with”. Something to think about.
As Yum Brands CEO David Novak so eloquently says; “The only way to make big things happen is by taking people with you”.