“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future”
-Charles F. Kettering (American Engineer)
“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
– William Pollard (Chairman Emeritus, The Servicemaster Company)
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
-Bill Drayton (Ashoka Founder)
We live in times when business MUST be social. The old models of cold, removed CEOs and GMs who are not accessible is OVER! The wisest CEO and GM is up front, with the customer, with the vendor, with the supplier, with the competitor even, smiling, shaking hands and getting to know the parea surrounding his/her products and services. Social business is 100% about the heart.
The old adage about following your heart to true wealth, the wealth your organization and YOU need is TRUE. One does not need to look far for confirmation of this truth. The shop owner whose door is wide open from early in the morning to late in the evening, whose pavement is set up with chair and tables, whose radio is playing uplifting and positive music, whose shelves are piled with what his/her customer wants and needs, who extends an invitation to a community event, who knows his neighborhood and gives to its real needs…this person is respected AND loved!
Stewart Emery, co-founder of The Human Potential Movement, has said, “We should call normal the person who awakens each morning with shining eyes, seeing each day as a gift, clearly centered in what they are passionate about and committed to a practice of getting better and better and better at it and living a life that’s a gift to the world, welcoming people of all ethnicities and persuasions with respect and WARMTH!” (Source).
To be a social business, one must be focused on the heart of the people one works with and serves. Their bright eyes are all around you and looking to YOU to give and contribute. If there ever was a time for YOU to give, the time is NOW. Stepping down from the mountain of opacity and into the warm waters of transparency is a liberating experience. When the north steps into the vibe of the south, miracles occur. When the right unbuttons a few buttons, removes the cuff links, rolls up the sleeves and gets into the fray, into the dance, LIFE is possible and VITALITY infuses the project, the sale, and the organization.
Bill Pollard, former chairman of The Servicemaster Company, argues that “one of the most important factors of the success and growth of [his] business” was the “simple truth of recognizing the potential, dignity, and worth of the individual.” Pride in the results of ones work (and therefore a desire to do quality work regardless of compensation or working conditions) begins with “dignity, pride of accomplishment, and recognition for a job well done.”
There is story told from Pollard’s company of a man who worked in Atlanta at an industrial plant. The executives of Servicemaster were visiting the plant with the founder of the company. As the executives looked out upon the floor, this man was pushing a HUGE industrial machine up a ramp with other men. For a moment, the machine rolled backwards. And AT THAT MOMENT, this man put his back into the job and gave a magnificent push. Rallied by this man’s effort, the others followed suit and the machine easily crested the top of the ramp. One of Servicemaster’s executives turned to the other’s present and said, “Give me that man’s name and have him meet us tomorrow here.” It was not too much later that this same blue-collar worker became a trainee with Servicemaster, then an assistant manager, then a manager, then a leader in the C-Suite at the headquarters.
This story is an image of what the HEART must do in these times. Those who bring heart to their efforts win. In times like these, men and women are called to approach one another AND their work with blood, sweat and tears. I would argue that governments, corporations, the eco-system and families are ALL at the same place as that industrial machine. The efforts humanity has made to solve multiple problems caused by previous generations is truly astounding. The recent donation made by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the amazing work of the Gates Foundation globally and the recent awarding by Google of $10 million to 5 world-changing ideas are just a few examples of the very real efforts humans are making to push that industrial machine OVER THE CREST!
CEOs, GMs and Managers globally would do well to look at the 21 Principles of Servicemaster, an organization devoted 100% to service, and consider how to apply these principles to a heart-based business:
1. We are opportunity seekers, not entitlement takers. We create and earn and cannot afford to sit and inherit.
2. We are value driven and performance oriented.
3. We eat our own cooking. We bet the egg money on our own performance.
4. We train and run for both the sprint and marathon. We rest, have fun, never quit, and always seek to learn.
5. We plan for succession and develop our future leaders.
6. The truth of what we say is told by what we do. “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.”
7. If we cannot serve and sell with a passion for excellence, we cannot lead.
8. We believe in what we sell and deliver.
9. As we provide extraordinary service, we bring value-added to the customer that cannot be duplicated.
10. There are no friendly competitors.
11. We believe in a lean and disciplined organization. We would rather buy a grand piano than employ or assign one unnecessary person.
12. We pay based on performance and promote based on potential, not belief, tenure, gender, race, or friendships.
13. Those who produce the profits should share in the profits. Those who produce more should share more.
14. We make and beat budgets.
15. We seek to know and increase our market share so that we can grow and increase the profitability and value of our business.. If we ignore our market share, we run the risk of losing our market and our business.
16. When we are wrong or fail, we admit it. Truth cannot be compromised. We report on what has occurred or is anticipated, not on what will make us look good.
17. We promote others, not ourselves. We shoot against par.
18. We must have a spirit of independence without the malady of autonomy.
19. The customer comes first and should be our friend.
20. We are all prisoners of our hope. It is our hope that sustains us, and it is our vision for what could be that inspires us and those we lead. “Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light.”
21. We have all been created in God’s image, and the results of our leadership will be measured beyond the workplace. The story will be told in the changed lives of people.