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Commerce Without Morality

Commerce Without Morality

Fans of Mohandas K. Gandhi will recognize today’s title as one of the “seven social sins” that Gandhi published in 1925. (The full list appears below.) Gandhi wrote that a friend had given him the list. But after he spent decades speaking and writing about the big themes on this list, people just naturally assumed he was the originator. The point for us is not who described “commerce without morality” as a social sin. The point is how deep the concept goes. First, the idea that businesses should be responsible to society is totally not new. We live in an age of constant invention, so it’s...
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I’m Engaged. You’re Engaged. Not.

I’m Engaged. You’re Engaged. Not.

It’s official: we don’t care. According to the latest results from Gallup’s employee engagement index, half of U.S. employees admit they’re disengaged at work. Not all the time, but often enough to know it consciously and be willing to say so in a telephone interview. That’s bad enough, but here’s what it breeds: 18% of those surveyed are “actively disengaged.” That means they are actually working against their company’s values and culture, while taking a paycheck and benefits from it. Kind of like a double-dip, only with a dagger instead of a spoon. A total optimist might point to the other...
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CEOs – If You Had to Write an Employee Letter Explaining Your Vision, What Would It Say?

CEOs – If You Had to Write an Employee Letter Explaining Your Vision, What Would It Say?

As a CEO, you have a challenging job. You carry an awesome level of responsibility. You have to balance vision and reality across a diverse spectrum of activities and people. You have to make sure everything your business does leads to a profitable outcome. Most important, you have to lead your products, processes and people toward that outcome. Translating leadership vision into organizational action isn’t easy. You know where you want your business to be, but it isn’t easy getting other people to see what you envision, to feel your passion, or to be as deliberate and focused in...
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Why Brands Should Invest In The “Messy” World Of Feelings

Why Brands Should Invest In The “Messy” World Of Feelings

Business management thrives through almost obsessive measurement, quantification and control. Algorithms drive decisions. Data informs conversations. Dashboards display results. But where does human emotion – the driver of all decision making – factor into these business practices? How do algorithms know how people feel, and how that impacts on how they act? How do metrics – however precise – give you insight into the deep-felt needs, wants and aspirations of your employees and customers? How does your dashboard – however glitzy – convey the fluid world of brand decisions that sway one way...
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If Grandma Could Do It, Why Can’t The CMO?

If Grandma Could Do It, Why Can’t The CMO?

My grandmother used to tell stories to the kids in my neighborhood. She would gather us around, get this far-away look on her face, and start in on a tale of some kids in the woods or a rabbit in the meadow or whatever. They would always be just as long as they needed to be, no longer. We would hang on her every word. Once I asked her to retell a certain story we had heard from her years before, and she agreed. But as she told the story, it kept taking twists and turns I did not remember from the first time. ‘That’s not the story, Grandma,” I objected. She nodded with certainty. “Yes it is,”...
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Releasing The Pent Up Meaning Within Brands

Releasing The Pent Up Meaning Within Brands

One of the joys we have in our work is watching as our clients, who run highly successful companies, are surprised and delighted to see how their brands can matter more to people. We’re not in the business of creating illusions. We dig deep into our client’s business to uncover “meaningful truths” that are already operating below the surface. By shedding light on the rational and emotional value of these truths, we are able to show our clients just how much they can matter to people on both a rational and emotional level. What is most interesting to us is how our...
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Another Gap in the Story

Another Gap in the Story

It’s hard to watch the Rana Plaza story play out without a sense of déjà vu. Back in 2003, Walmart won the dubious distinction of “Sweatshop of the Year” for tolerating abusive practices by suppliers of low-priced garments in developing countries. Gap Inc. was the first American clothing retail tarred with that brush, back in the 1990s. And here they are today, the two major hold-outs against an industry-wide agreement to prevent more deadly disasters in the Bangladesh garment trade. Have they learned nothing? Gap in particular is hard to understand. Walmart has a history of brushing off...
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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

We often reach a “stay or go” point in key relationships. It can happen with our partners, our jobs, or even the brands we’ve been using. We go through the process of weighing up the pros and cons of the relationship. We assess what has changed, or not changed as we hoped. We factor in new opportunities, new dreams and new fears. We analyze the gap between what we first imagined this relationship would turn out to be, and how it has actually turned out. We consider the cost to us to “make things right again”. We struggle to balance rationality and sentimentality. We focus on what really...
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The Tales That Bind

The Tales That Bind

It may be hard to find fans of the U.S. military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we have learned a few things. One is that tourniquets save lives. For a long time they were exiled from emergency medicine, in both military and civilian life, but now we know that they save lives under the right circumstances. Another surprising life-saving technique is telling stories. When people in military units share a backstory, they trust each other more and do more to keep each other safe and successful. The military tested this in its schools and training camps after learning from researchers...
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Five Sustainability Report Formats

Five Sustainability Report Formats

The pros and cons of five sustainability report formats What format will your corporate sustainability report (CSR) take? Determining how to present the final product is one of the key decisions to make as you develop the strategy and project plan for a CSR. The format not only has budget and timeline implications, but it also impacts the way your report is organized and written. For example, writing for the web requires a very different approach than a long-form printed copy. It wasn’t too long ago that most companies simply prepared printed documents and/or a downloadable PDF of the same...
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