Business Impact: Discovering It and Living It

A purpose driven company stands for and acts on something bigger than its products and services.

It’s not just a transactional business.

It’s a business designed to make a positive Impact.

Impact can be an organizational strategy and a roadmap to remain competitive in the marketplace.

It’s the second element in the Prosperity Plan and is comprised of your purpose, vision, and mission.

Knowing the definitions isn’t quite enough. Business owners often ask, “But Rob…HOW do we do this?”

And a second (and sometimes unasked) question is “Why does it matter?”

Let’s look at some examples.

Alaska Airlines: lives their commitment to “fly greener” with innovative technology

The global aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions.

In response, Alaska Airlines made a commitment to “fly greener.”

They put measurable goals in place to make sure that their actions lined up with their talk.

On an Alaska flight a few years back, I noticed these odd little wingtips. The captain made an announcement explaining that these were there to increase fuel efficiency. I remember thinking at the time that it wouldn’t make much difference.

Turns out that these “scimitar winglets” saved the company 34,000 gallons of fuel in the first year they rolled them out. At the time, it was about $20 million in savings. Today it could easily be double that amount.

Other “fly greener” commitments include being a pioneer in bio jet fuel made from the stumps and branches left over from harvesting timber and reducing inflight waste through their recycling program.

So far, Alaska has reduced its emissions by more than 35 percent per passenger mile since 2004 and has been ranked the most sustainable airline in North America by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

“We care about running a great airline and making a positive impact on the places and people we serve. When we are at our best, we do so in ways that strengthen our business and accelerate our growth.”

Kirk Myers, Director of Sustainability

Sometimes business leaders believe they need to choose between purpose and profitability.

It’s not one or the other.

This executive is saying, “Look, we can do both.”

We can live up to our purpose, having a positive impact on the environment, and grow our business.

That’s a very purposeful company

CVS Pharmacy: demonstrates commitment to “health” by not selling tobacco products

Sometimes choosing a commitment to purpose causes some short-term pain.

In 2014, CVS Pharmacy became the first U.S. drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products.

When they realized that tobacco didn’t align with its purpose of helping people on their path to better health, CVS executives not only removed all tobacco products from the stores, they also launched a program to help smokers quit.

In the first year of this new strategy, CVS lost $2 billion in annual cigarette sales.

However, their pharmacy sales jumped by 4% and their demonstrated commitment to better health helped them become an attractive target for a $69 billion merger with Aetna.

Now, I’m not going to say that CVS is perfect, it’s not.

We know that CVS still sells questionable products for our health – like sugary snacks and alcohol. But as leaders, we need to keep the perspective that purpose is a journey.

There are 2 things CVS is doing really well:

  1. They use their purpose as a NorthStar to guide difficult decisions (like cutting out the sales of tobacco products)
  2. They LIVE their purpose by connecting it to all stakeholders. They want their employees to be healthier and their customers to be healthier. To live this, they try to ensure their employees connect with that purpose and see how their work is helping people on their path to better health.

Timberland: lives their values by building an employee workforce of “earthkeepers”

Timberland is known as an environmentally aware supplier of outdoor apparel.

They use their values and beliefs to attract employees who are already aligned with their purpose. They call them “earthkeepers” – a term that encapsulates their core values of creating responsible products, protecting the outdoors, and serving communities around the world.

As a company, they’re setting sustainability standards by creating footwear made of recycled materials. They’re also committed to reducing waste and using fewer chemicals.

However, what really stood out to me more than anything else while researching Timberland was this story:

When their executives found out that their offshore factory workers lacked access to clean drinking water, they partnered with Planet Water Foundation to install purified water towers in several of their worker communities. This led to higher productivity and lower absenteeism – while creating a better life for the community.

That’s a great example of a purposeful company,

How do organizations pursue purpose successfully?

It starts with articulating a clear, authentic, and long-term purpose – something that is true today, and that guides the organization into the future.

  • Clear = easy to understand
  • Authentic = relatable, true
  • Long-term = provides continuity between generations

Stand-out companies like the ones the above set measurable goals to put their purpose statement into action.

To see more examples (including a couple of companies that failed) and to learn more about how you can create Impact in your business, sign up below for the Impact webinar replay.

Watch Now: Business Impact

Want your team rowing in the same direction? The very first step toward achieving alignment is to define your purpose, vision, and mission. Learn:

  • The differences between purpose, vision, and mission
  • How defining your company Impact leads to wealth, legacy, and prosperity
  • How to develop these to ensure enthusiastic adoption

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