It has been a while since the last post. Meanwhile the world has seen lots of political news come by, with populist insurgent Trump reaching his 100-days in office mark while being at a propaganda rally himself, missing the correspondence dinner where he and his administration were instead grilled by a comedian. In the same month we saw a non-populist victories in The Netherlands, and France, who found the youngest ever president in France in Macron, a 39 years old self-declared ‘centrist’ in favor of the EU and globalization. At the same time we also saw Theresa May gamble with new elections to find support for her hard stance on Brexit. The losing populist candidate in France, Le Pen, argued last night that the fight is far from over. From now on she will adopt a new frame that aims to transcend her current Front National logic: we’ll be talking ‘patriots’ vs ‘globalists’ in the future. If you’re still trying to make sense of it all, this lecture by Mark Blyth may help.
In this divisive environment, organizations can be caught in the crossfire, as many in the US have already experienced through Trump tweet storms. The Economist described this dilemma well in a recent article (summary on slide below), which argued that companies inherently have political dimensions as well – whether they like it or not. Many pro-active examples can be found in recent times, like Patagonia’s public campaign against Trump, 127 companies signing a document against the travel ban, or companies – like Uber – that choose to do everything within legal powers to ensure/maintain shareholder value.
In our view, this new world is a space where organizations can grow in new ways and ‘model the 3D company of the future’, which will exist in a world where real impact/value creation is increasingly transparent and valued by customers. In this new world, next to balancing stakeholder interests – the fiduciary duty part – companies should pro-actively and publicly commit to positive impact goals that transcend political diversities. As I have argued before, those purpose-driven firms tend to do better financially, build a more satisfied customer base, and internally find better ways to engage their people. As highlighted by the B-corps movement, it can also provide significant brand value. Investment trends show a similar direction, SRIs (socially responsible investments) become more popular quickly.
In a world divided, the need for a clear direction is high. Companies can fill this space by integrating purpose with their strategic thinking in a way that transcends party politics, and in the process build the 3D organization of the future.