Tag: Alignment

Alignment and Sustainability

The word ‘sustainability’ is often used with reference to renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and a way of keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. Our SERVICEBRAND perspective is on organizational sustainability but, ultimately, the sustainability of all organizations is dependent on the sustainability of our planet, and we wholeheartedly support the urgently needed overdue efforts in this area.

Due to the vast scope and nature of the subject, there is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. Every nation, business, organisation, and individual has a different idea on what it is and how it can be achieved. Sustainability is not a new concept, with many indigenous peoples across the world having long histories of living in balance with their land and ecosystems. But the idea of global sustainability stems from the concept of sustainable development, which became common language at the World’s first Earth Summit in 1992.

The original definition of sustainable development is usually considered to be: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Organizational sustainability

A lot has changed since that first summit, there have been many variations and extensions on this basic definition. Business sustainability may therefore be described as cohesively managing and integrating the financial, social, and environmental facets of the business to meet the needs of the present without compromising future performance. It is about creating ‘long-term’ value for all stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, service partner organizations, local communities… and some people consider the planet to be another stakeholder).

When taking a closer look at organisational sustainability, it often looks at two key areas sustainability practices have the greatest impact on. These being the effect on society and the effect on the environment.

The best outcome of a sustainable business strategy is to make a positive impact in both of these areas, by producing a product or service that is of benefit to society, while not negatively impacting the environment.

Often organisations will prioritise societal convenience over protecting or limiting their impact on the environment, and because of this, show no care or attention to either of these areas, while also failing to take responsibility for the damage they cause. It is because of this kind of behaviour that we find ourselves facing the challenges of deforestation, baron soil, water poverty, social injustices, and famine, to name a few.

Alignment

Societal and environmental stability don’t always have to be at odds with financial gains, there is space for them to align and provide the best possible outcome for the organisation and for the people and spaces it affects. This is what is known as a shared value opportunity. When you align your organisation with social and environmental needs, you will be able to drive positive financial outcomes with positive deeds. The more consistent and sustainable you are, the more likely customers and service users are to engage with you, and most importantly, stay with you.

Convenience has long dominated business focus because it works for short term profitability. But it is not good for the long-term goals of anyone involved. It can be harrowing to shift your organisational strategy away from a convenience led, fast profit model. But the long-term benefits far out way the short-term losses.

How to begin?

Realignment takes time and can seem overwhelming, but it will make a huge difference to the organisation’s future. Becoming a sustainable organisation requires being open to considering factors that previously hadn’t been a priority. How your decisions will affect the environment, the economy and social issues should always be considered when developing effective strategies. When you understand your impacts, it helps prevent the pile up of longer-term liabilities or crisis’s.

Thanks to dedicated climate and social scientists, it has never been easier to measure and reduce our impact on the world around us. From apps that help track and off-set carbon emissions, to water conservation, rewilding and forestry schemes, even renewable energy incentives.

Why should I?

Investors and rating agencies are increasingly considering businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, as sustainability moves up the political agenda. Social risks are typically those that affect the community in which a company operates, such as through health and safety, working conditions or economic opportunity.

As an indicator, ESG news in April had almost double the coverage compared to November. Investors are anticipated to spend $1bn on ESG data tracking by 2021 (20% per annum growth). BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has committed to making sustainability the new standard for investing (for the nearly $7 trillion in assets that the company manages) and has outlined several practical ways in which this will be progressed.

Global giants Google and WWF announced details of their environmental data platform, a joint initiative which aims to tackle harmful emissions and waste across fashion industry supply chains. This will allow fashion brands to source raw materials and track their sustainability, providing them with greater transparency over the environmental impact of their supply chains.

SERVICEBRAND

When you are able to align your organisation with sustainability goals, you establish a powerful narrative, one that connects you to your consumers and services users through mutual understanding of the responsibility we all share to make our planet a better and safer place to live. We here at SERVICEBRAND aren’t about lip service, we are here to help you create sustainability strategies that see you transform the way people recognise you, helping them to engage with you in a more long lasting and purposeful way.

Alignment and Inclusion

In this next blog exploring alignment in the landscape of the Values Economy, we’ll be looking at how inclusion can boost organizational alignment and consumer engagement by putting people first and empowering them through representation.

Inclusion

Being an inclusive organization provides significant benefits, from gaining a competitive edge by hiring from diverse pools of talent, to attracting a wider audience and consumer base from different communities.

We use the term Inclusion rather than ‘diversity’ because we believe that just having diverse people is not enough. Diversity and inclusion are not synonymous and, to be worthwhile, the two must go hand in hand. This means that while organizations can work hard to hire people from different backgrounds at all levels, it is all meaningless tokenism unless these people’s voices are heard.

Time and time again, research into the benefits of inclusive organisation has shown a positive result across the board.

· Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time

· Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions twice as fast with half the meetings

· Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results

More diverse companies are better able to attract top talent, improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making. This is likely to become even more important in the future as demand will grow for skills such as analytical thinking, innovation, active learning, creativity, collaboration and complex problem-solving, while rote skills and easily repeatable tasks will be shunted off to automation.

Inclusivity can be a challenging area, if your organization has only focused its attention in one direction for a long time, the changes necessary to include others can and often do challenge the most toxic parts of organizational culture. Marginalised peoples and communities have long been the subject of water cooler talk, an exercise in bonding as the butt of a joke.

Why inclusion matters

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the perfect present for the test of our civilization.” M K Gandhi

Values-driven inclusion is so important because the effort will not succeed if people in the minority don’t feel safe to be themselves. It is estimated that over 50% of people who identify as LGBTQ remain in the closet or diminish their true selves to fit in better at work, to avoid being the subject of rumours, gossip, and workplace bullying.

Several HR and D&I leaders struggle, to the point of paralysis, to have a conversation about race at work. Sometimes they either do not know where to start or are unable to convince their leaders of why this is so important. Other areas of diversity and inclusion such as age, disability and social class seem to receive less attention and others such as neurodiversity are receiving long overdue recognition due to increased levels of knowledge, understanding and awareness.

Inclusion encourages a wider perspective across all stakeholder groups (customers, employees, service partners, local communities etc) to consider the benefits for individuals, organizations, and wider society beyond the traditional business performance metrics.

As mentioned in the previous blog on the Fourth Revolution, data collection and management processes can play a powerful role in equipping organisations with the right information to understand, support and include everyone from the ground up.

Aligning values with inclusion

A recurring theme we have noticed is a tendency for diversity and inclusion initiatives to stand alone or exist in isolation and not reflect the organization’s purpose, values, and priorities. Including people is not a gimmick or marketing tool, to create inclusive rhetoric, when the organisation does not build and live practises designed to support consumers, service users and employees, and will always result in the minority being further marginalised, while empowering the majority to retain toxic workplace cultures that promote exclusion and division. This not only has a social impact but a definite financial one.

Bringing your values into alignment with inclusive practices requires patience, mutual awareness and understanding. It is not a race to collect the most tokens, but instead it is a sincere effort to recognise the unique humanity of everyone that will engage with your organization.

Avoid box ticking, while acronyms for protected characteristics like BAME and LGBTQ, are important and necessary, intersectionality is far more individual and complex. Asking someone to speak for their entire ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual identity is reductive and limiting. When you align your organization with the values you truly represent, it will build an atmosphere of inclusion, one where everyone that uses your service will be aware of being valued for their unique humanity, not begrudgingly served because they have to be.

SERVICEBRAND

The SERVICEBRAND approach can help you to align your values with inclusive practises that allow everyone to feel respected and treated fairly. We believe in a holistic and individual approach to build employee engagement initiatives that go beyond the stand alone, unconnected one day seminars telling people what to do, rather than showing them the benefits of full and proper inclusion.

Alignment and 4IR


The fourth revolution

Over the coming weeks, this blog will explore the relevance and importance of organizational alignment against the landscape of the new paradigm we refer to as the Values Economy. Starting us off this week is the fourth revolution and its potential impacts in an evermore and ever rapidly advancing techno-society.

4IR

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the banner name covering advances being made in areas like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, biogenetic engineering, and the internet, to name a few. More simply put, 4IR covers the way in which our world is moving from a purely physically industrial planet to one in which the lines between digital, biological, and physical technologies are overlapped.

Data is king

With the advent of social media, businesses and organizations found a main line directly to their customers consciousness. Now all our decisions are tracked across the internet, every time we search for something on Google, like a photo or make a comment, that data is collected and fed into algorithms that in turn offer more targeted ads, based on what we like to see and our predictability of making a purchasing.

The amount of data being collected is enormous, even in some instances the time to the micro-second we spend paused on an ad or picture while scrolling, and factors into what we are likely to be shown next.

Individual alignment

At one level, this might be of great benefit for advertisers and data gatherers, and even for the general public in terms of accessibility to desired content. However, the conversation might be different if we begin to centre it around the concept of values. It has never been easier for organisations to reach us with their messages, but to what extent does their influence apply to the things we believe in and value?

There is proven power in brand alignment. When we feel aligned with an organization’s values, we are more likely to spend with them, talk about them and remain loyal to their brand. But are we aligned to the authentic reality of that brand image? Or merely to a carefully tailored presentation that targets us cleverly and, perhaps, individually.

Do you see your favourite brands in the same way as somebody else and is it possible that you falsely assume that the same picture is being shown to everybody in a consistent way when it might not be?

Putting Data to Use

Use of data isn’t always an insidious erosion of our personal freedom. Often, people accept the data being gathered as the price they pay for better and more intuitive services. They trust and feel aligned to that organization’s purpose. Businesses like Netflix for example, spend millions on data collection and algorithm generation, to offer better content choices to their customers.

This kind of personalisation means almost everyone is individually seeing the kind of content they are likely to watch without having to do a lot of scrolling and searching for it.

Developing features like ‘continue watching’ also help develop customer experience by making us feel more in control of the platform, and thus able to drop in and out at our leisure; if it makes us feel good, we are far more likely to do it. It serves Netflix too, in the billions of dollars in savings they achieve through retaining loyal customers. For some of Netflix’s competitors. where content is not as accessible and intuitive, this is a serious disadvantage.

Customer Alignment and Trust

As more people become aware of the volume of data being collected about them, they begin to feel more uncertain about whether or not their trust has been put in the right places. With 83% of people believing that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy.

‘Hard to build, easy to break.’ This phrase sums up the experience of building trust in any business or organisation. They need to be able to prove that they have the customer’s best interest at heart; that the data they are collecting is only used to tailor customer experience for the benefit of the customer, not for the organization to profiteer on.

People feel aligned with Netflix because they get offered the content they desire and are reassured their money is going back into creating the kind of content they want to see more of. This ‘trust us and we’ll keep giving you want you want’ business model has served Netflix well.

The case cannot be made the same for other organisations that make no attempt to align with their customers beliefs and values, instead choosing to push content and products on them that they don’t want or need. Or worse still use the technology to alter public opinion.

Focus

4IR is changing the world, the way we live, work, and express ourselves is shifting, as the line between reality and the online space blurs. Organizations that navigate this frontier successfully will be those that move and grow with a clear sense of shared values. Values practically applied to align with consumer and service user needs in a positive way, focusing on them as people and not as profit.

There are repercussions for developing the appropriate leadership skills and education and training systems in a world where skillset will become an increasingly transient commodity. There is also a shift from traditional organizations with fixed structures to ecosystems which are networks of organizations involved in the delivery of a specific product or service. Unexpected alliances are forged, sector boundaries blur, and long-standing strengths count for less.

SERVICEBRAND

This is where the SERVICEBRAND approach can create significant value because, irrespective of the various stakeholders, the focus remains: delivering a brand aligned customer experience through one team of brand ambassadors, supported by effective and robust systems and processes, and measurement and insight. The framework helps to keep technological advancement ‘in check’ and viewed as a support tool rather than one that takes on a life of its own.

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