Find Love at Whole Foods Market _ YouTube
See WholeFoods, the conscious business and their tongue in cheek, hook up service. (For the record, they weren’t first, I hear Coles at Neutral Bay Sydney has been hook up heaven for over two decades.)
John Mackey, the co CEO and co-founder of the Whole Food Market has given us some language and concepts around the idea of business ‘doing good’ in his co authored book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. It is not that this thinking in business is new, its just that it was taboo to talk about it in business…it was seen as too mushy and un-commercial.
In 2003 I was personally cautioned about the use of the term ‘conscious customer relationships’ by a management consultant, saying that it would affect my credibility to use such language in front of a client. Sadly I think he was right. In retrospect this is as absurd as the fixation to talk about e-commerce prior to the first dot com crash and how it was seen to be dangerous to talk about it the day after. There are a lot of covert rules about where our thinking can go and what conversations can be had in business, rigid rules that work against the greater good and profitability of business.
Today the picture is much different. We have Deepak Chopra lecturing in the Kelloggs School of Management on the Soul of Leadership (great book!) and Warren Buffett touting the benefits of principle based capitalism. At some point it became okay to take this awareness into the boardroom. What’s more, since we have had the permission to talk about it and study it, we are finding that the companies that are principle based with a greater social conscious are more profitable than the average company. (Move over Jim Collins’s Good to Great).
Raj Sisodia uncovered this in the 28 companies he studied in his ground breaking work “Firms of Endearment”, which you can read more about at http://www.firmsofendearment.com
The success of these 28 companies is captured in a declaration on the web site:
“These companies pay their employees very well, provide great value to customers, and have thriving, profitable suppliers. They are also wonderful for investors, returning 1025% over the past 10 years, compared to only 122% for the S&P 500 and 316% for the companies profiled in the bestselling book Good to Great — companies selected purely on the basis of their ability to deliver superior returns to investors.”
There are two key drivers from a brand planning and customer strategy perspective that reinforce why businesses that do good, feel good and are more profitable.
The first is, people see their quality of life, health, well being, relationships as being affected by their relationship with the world and others. Individualism is giving away to a sense of a connected self.
The second is, brand and customer value is about a transformative promise, taking people closer to their ideal self. A business that delivers purposeful, on passion, solutions and experiences, is more transformative and therefore more valuable.
The conscious businesses that are popping up and eclipsing others in the marketplace are nothing more than a mirror of the growing consciousness of people. If your business doesn’t yet have a charter of consciousness that is about purpose and passion, get one. Lock it into an employee, stakeholder and customer brand. Develop guiding principles to design your business around and carry the message internally and externally to your customers.
When you do, you will not only feel good, your customers will feel good and you will make more money, may be 10 times more.
Here are some conscious businesses you may want to check out:
Hearts and Minds
Founder of the Thought Leaders Circle