Article Round-up: Executive Reads on Purpose

In my reading, I seek out stories about companies and executives working to build high performing companies and a better world. Here I’ve curated several articles from recent months that caught my attention. 

Lessons from Companies That Put Purpose Ahead of Short-Term Profits
Harvard Business Review

From CVS to Unilever, companies are going beyond just delivering returns to shareholders to make decisions that, at least in the short-term, will cost them in terms of reduced revenues and/or increased costs. These decisions involve a complex interaction of factors that has the characteristics of a paradox – a situation in which oppositional tendencies are brought into close contact. Here Andrew White from Said Business School, University of Oxford, describes the path of leaders who resolve paradoxes. They accept them, confront them, and figure out how to transcend them.

(June 2016)


What Gets Lost on the Path to Purpose
Huffington Post

This thoughtful piece from REI’s VP of Communications talks about the sacrifice and grit it takes to lead a purpose-focused business. Purpose-led business has become such a popular concept that everyone wants a piece of it. But to make dreams of new ways of doing business actually happen, we need the discipline to balance imagining what we could create, with asking what we can (and should) stop doing. If we don’t, the momentum behind purpose-led business will suffer from reputation erosion.

(June 2016)


CMO interview: How Guzman Y Gomez is redefining the fast food category through brand purpose

Much of my time working with companies is focused on how to operationalize purpose. This article explores how purpose can change the approach marketers take for their organizations.  Anna Jones, marketing chief for Mexican fast food chain Guzman Y Gomez, talks through her plans for the brand as well as how she's shaking up customer experience. Long-term, Guzman Y Gomez’s priority is to redefine what fast food is. “We’re going on a journey to prove that fast food can be clean, responsible, and nutritious, and still be acceptable and affordable,” she says. “We know we can do it, but we want to encourage and inspire other fast food players to make these changes too.”

(August 2016)


5 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurship Is The New Business Model

Social enterprise has taken off as a new formula for success, combining capitalism with a do-good mentality. Having social impact built into your business model allows you to live your life purpose. To achieve high-minded goals, companies might fund specific programs, partner with governments or existing philanthropic entities, or follow a one-for-one donation model, and work on either the local or international level. This story outlines five reasons why social entrepreneurship is the new business model

(August 2016)


On the 10th anniversary of TOMS, its founder talks about stepping down, bringing in private equity, and why giving away shoes provides a competitive advantage
Business Insider

Ten years ago, a young entrepreneur named Blake Mycoskie launched TOMS Shoes. Since then, dozens of other companies have followed in TOMS' footsteps with one-for-one models. In this interview, Mxcoskie talks about the mission that drove the creation of TOMS Shoes and how the company’s giving and purpose are a competitive advantage. He has great belief in the power of business to solve social problems, and to sustain this over time.

(June 2016)


Strategic Capability through Social Good at BD
Center for Higher Ambition Leadership

For decades, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) has built strategic capability while simultaneously addressing population health issues. Often they have found that focusing on the social need can both benefit society and lead to business opportunity. In a recent piece for strategy+business, Eric McNulty profiled the efforts of BD, a member company at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, to develop the low-cost BD Odon Device to assist women with labor complications, particularly in developing countries. He found that BD uses Higher Ambition efforts such as these to develop core strategic capabilities: building knowledge, attracting and retaining talent, and developing critical relationships.

(July 2016)