Tuesday, 4 November 2003 - Hamilton, New Zealand
An address to the Waikato Management School Sustainable Enterprise Symposium. Opening thoughts, ideas, inspirations and directions. Here’s an early presentation linking personal passions, professional practice, local imperatives and academic affiliations.
It is my privilege and pleasure to be with you today. Since I’m not a policy wonk, this won’t be a tick sheet or tax plan. I’ll leave the fiscal wrestling to Helen and Don.
Sustainable business has more interpretations than the Mona Lisa. For me it’s a smile. My glass is always half full. In a swot test I only focus on opportunities and strengths.
So today I’m going to share a personal perspective. Perspective from a New Zealander who works day-by-day with global companies and week-by-week with New Zealand communities. And I’m going introduce you to the applied dimensions of a number of programs I’ve instigated or been involved with.
This talk is about what is possible and what works. The newest project you know. My thanks to Mike Pratt and Roger Downer. I’m delighted to champion our local / global partnership. Magic happens when we connect with our emotions. That is how Waikato and Limerick came together. Our alliance has diametric fit. It has emotional flow. Boiling at the heads of our regional research rivers are the Is and Es:
- Ideas, imagination, intuition, insight, inspiration.
- Empathy, enchantment, excitement, edge, emotion.
Our overarching challenge is human progress. You don’t achieve this in select committees or nation debates. Human progress is led through enterprising individuals. Always has been. Enterprise lifted us into the global age – from plow and wheel through to jet and silicon chip. The question in an imperfect competitive reality, is how do we move forward together? How can enterprise touch and improve life?
To me sustainable enterprise means love and inspiration through business.
First – Primary Truth
For there to be a human tie, there have to be gold medals. To be sustainable as an enterprise – to create jobs and abundance – you first have to win. And to make a difference in this capitalist reality you have to keep winning.
I faced this economic imperative when I joined a deflated Saatchi & Saatchi six years ago. We’ve since inflated and lifted off, growing revenue and profits six years running.
For New Zealand the imperative of economic survival is felt daily. Some 97% of our firms are smaller businesses employing half the working population. Having owned and operated in this pressure cooker, I’ve felt the heat. I’ve also witnessed the grit, guts and genius endemic to kiwi enterprise – recently evidenced by a Statistics New Zealand survey. Last year the pretax profit for all industries rose 42% to $42.4 billion.
So the anchor question for sustainable enterprise is this. How do you take a company into a zone of increasing returns to scale? When you’ve installed efficiency and effectiveness as a way of life, where do you find quantum returns? At the end of last century I went looking for the answer. And found it.
Sustainable enterprise happens when inspiration and emotion go to work. To transform Saatchi & Saatchi I unleashed them on the gridlock of brand management.
Management is a fallen hero. Doing things right, does not sustain enterprise. Nor does leadership, doing the right things. The message from the freezer box of business is that inspiration is the killer app.
That while none of us is as strong as all of us, it is the power of one that ignites. You are here today because as individuals you have the courage to make a difference in your respective fields. As instigators. As inspirers. As activators.
After 35 years in business on four continents, my haka to you is to be an inspirational player. To be “in spirit”. I ask you to inspire life. That means doing more than managing and leading. It means going to the end of the earth for what you believe in.
My mate John Wareham does that. He was in New Zealand last week launching his book “How to break out of prison”. One day a week he goes to the world’s largest penal colony – New York’s Rikers Island – to teach the life-changing class he created for inmates. Human progress is not about managing, following or leading. It’s a guy with a speech impediment teaching public speaking to a bunch of felons.
In business and in life it is inspiration that gets you to Peak Performance. It is inspiration that keeps you there. And inspiration comes down to one thing. Being the best you can be.
Inspire People, and Nothing is Impossible
That is what drives Peak Performance, the business program I developed here at Waikato with Mike Pratt, Clive Gilson and Ed Weymes. It is not about missions, plans or guidelines. It’s about having an Inspirational Dream, a Greatest Imaginable Challenge and a Relentless Focus. And about unleashing Inspirational Players. We do this by connecting personal purpose with a genuine commercial desire to a make difference to the world.
Peak Performance focuses on the top line. It is now a detailed way of life in some of the world’s Peak Performing companies. We’ve used it to transform Saatchi & Saatchi. We’ve used it to help sustain Procter & Gamble, whose fiscal 2003 profit margins are the highest in 50 years. Toyota who have descended on Detroit like the perfect storm.
The destination Saatchi & Saatchi created for Peak Performance was Lovemarks. We predicated Lovemarks on understanding. The way people frame ideas has direct correlation to their power. Finding the right language takes you beyond marketable product. It can create higher orders of relationship, business, product, service, design and performance. As Fast Company founder Alan Webber reminded me, it can create whole new paradigms and categories.
Lovemarks are deep emotional connections between companies, brands and customers that inspire loyalty beyond reason. They return premium value for a core reason. Emotion is an unlimited resource with unlimited power. I throw every CEO a sustainability cruncher. Would you like consumers to respect your brand and company or to love and respect them? The answer is always the same.
The goal of every CEO should be to make their Enterprise a Lovemark
Love is not sector-specific. I’ve moved it out of the living room and into the boardroom. Because wherever you take love, it makes a difference. Through business love can make the world a better place. That’s the role of business. That is what I’m devoting the rest of my life to.
I’ve made it my mission to emotionalise Procter & Gamble and Toyota. They’ve responded. Procter & Gamble’s mantra is touch and improve life. Their Inspirational Dream is make every day a little bit better by creating and building brands that people love. Toyota totally get it. Their head of global R&D recently told a conference his job is “To make sure the cars Toyota produce are loved everywhere.”
These companies don’t see sustainability as risk removal. They see it as the business they are in. They have incredible values, big dreams and relentless performance ethics. To get to Lovemarks you have to be more than irreplaceable. You have to be irresistible. More than relevant. You have to be amazingly relevant. And you have to ask tough questions:
- Economically – how do you stay in business for 50+ years?
- Ethically – how do you become a corporate supermodel?
- Ecologically – how do you conserve your natural environment?
- Socially – how do you nourish your human environment?
To be Sustainable, a Company must Address the Lot
I see environmental sustainability as and/and-pure. Reducing your footprint is a table stake. Not a differentiator. The breakthroughs are in inspiration. Look to Toyota. Being green doesn’t change behavior or grow revenue. Being green and sexy and cheap and strong and fast does. Saatchi & Saatchi used and / and to pitch for the Global Toyota Prius account. By positioning the planets’ greenest car as an integrated solution we won. Because that’s what the world-changing Prius is. Toyota took on the ecology-efficiency-ecstasy paradox. And with their hybrid synergy drive, they found a way through it.
Ethics and ecology are critical sustainability streams. They are not central. Not while a third of humanity is dispossessed, disillusioned and disenfranchised. The seed of change is within us. How we feel about ourselves – therefore others.
I lived this growing up poor in a small working class town in the North of England – no money, no options, surrounded by petty violence and poverty. Opportunity lifted me above that. Business gave me self-esteem and ambition.
Inspired enterprise is the engine to drive us forward. Above all by creating self-esteem through jobs, choices, opportunities and challenges. Fundamentally, it is lack of self-esteem that breaks society down. Build it and we can incarcerate all the serial killers: from violence and drugs through to pollution and war.
Social Sustainability is my Driving Passion
It underpins my business education commitment to Waikato and Limerick. My work with Auckland’s Turn Your Life around Trust (TYLA) for at-risk teenagers. Our challenge – your challenge as Inspirational players – is to love and inspire from the ground up. To lift social health and personal wealth through the power of ideas.
I’m relying on your New Zealand edge to blaze this trail. New Zealand creativity is world beating. I’ve depended on New Zealanders to help make Saatchi & Saatchi the most creative organization in a US$500 billion dollar industry. We’ve created a website around the New Zealand edge concept.
This is an idea about sustainable enterprise. One of our first big ideas was to give New Zealand back an extra million people – those kiwis and their children who have left this country – by repatriating them emotionally. By bringing their hearts back home, and therefore their ideas and energy. NZEDGE is a zone of inspiration, a place of radical optimism. If you want evidence of what I say about inspiration being the primary transformative tool available to us, then go visit NZEDGE.COM – www.nzedge.com.
Our spirit at Saatchi & Saatchi is Nothing is Impossible
I fully believe this. The only limit on ideas is our imagination. To stir heart and stimulate discussion, here are a few offshore examples:
1. P & G Rinse: P&G’s sustainability focus has gone from eliminating negatives to creating positives. In the Philippines P&G have just launched a test market for a revolutionary rinse product. It is designed for women who hand wash clothes. The product cuts the number of buckets of water needed from 4 to 2 and makes clothes cleaner & brighter and saves women 1 – 2 hours a day. A 50% saving in blue gold and, critically, time for women to go to school, get a job and be with family. This is sustainable enterprise. This is true innovation. Arno Penzias, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, marks the distinction. Invention, he says, is the product of a creative or curious mind. Innovation is something that changes the life of the customer. It changes the customer’s life in some way or the world in which the customer experiences things.
2. Hawthorne Huddle: Saatchi & Saatchi works with multi-national food company General Mills. In the late 90s Hawthorn in Minneapolis was like Brixton in the 80s, like 8 Mile Detroit a la Eminem. Crime-, drug- and gang-ridden. In ’97 a few neighbours got together with a rep from the General Mills foundation. They huddled to share experience and perspective. They talked. They’ve done so every month for six years now. Partnerships have been formed across a range of local agencies, including police, school districts and city agencies. The focus is always the issue of the day. Monthly attendance has gone from 12 to 60. Serious crime in the neighbourhood has reduced by a third. Since ’97 the General Mills Foundation has used the Huddle to guide funding priorities for the neighbourhood. The idea for the Huddle has now been copied by other neighbourhoods. In a nearby one, Jordan, they have the Jordan Jam. It began with Inspirational Players. Passionate individuals who believed local people are best at solving local problems.
3. Light up the World: The Saatchi & Saatchi Innovation in Communication Award is one of our flagship social initiatives. This year it was won by Dave Irvine-Halliday of Calgary’s Light Up the World Foundation. About two billion rural people in remote areas of the world’s developing nations have no access to electric light, a commodity we take for granted. The winning innovation was a simple but revolutionary technology – a white light emitting diode. It can light up an entire rural village with less energy than required to power a conventional 100-watt bulb. A simple idea to combat health and education problems in the developing world. At once ubiquitous, empowering, efficient, affordable and environmentally benign. It’s already lighting up homes and hearts.
This then is what I’m into. I’ve shared this with you because I believe you care. That as instigators, emotionalisers and peak performers – you are in spirit.
Sustainable Enterprise Starts Inside Us
It begins with the power of one. By increasing and connecting Inspirational Players, it can continue. To make a difference we now need to work together. We seek the Tipping Point to an inclusive world. The point of critical mass. The moment of transformation.