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Reclaiming Corporate Trust and Respect

by Sep 29, 20195 comments

For centuries the Roman Catholic Church dominated the world. In time, city states, and subsequently nation states, filled the vacuum caused by the decline of the church’s power in the world. More recently, these were replaced by corporations who have come to influence—even rule—our lives. In each case, as trust and respect for these power centers declined, so did their influence and power.   Today the Corporation is at a tipping point. We have the capacity to reclaim the reputation and trust that has been so carelessly squandered, or continue the path of decline. The choice is ours.   Recently, the Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs, modernized its statement of the purpose of a corporation. It’s chairman, Jamie Dimon, who is also Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., observed what many would see a statement of the obvious: “The American dream is alive, but fraying”. The Business Roundtable Declaration avows that the interests of shareholders are no longer the primary purpose of business, but that the purpose of a corporation is to promote “An Economy That Serves All Americans”.   Early in my career I consulted for Johnson & Johnson which had a near-Biblical set of guiding values called “Our Credo” that was ever present (and lived) by everyone in the organization. Crafted in 1943 by Robert Woods Johnson, a member of the company’s founding family, it committed the organization to living a long list of high ideals, which it argued, if met, would in the end, result in increased shareholder value. Note, this was the last imperative, not the first one. Today, the once venerable Johnson & Johnson faces over 100,000 lawsuits.   Around the same time in my career I consulted with IBM, who operated with a simple and clear Statement of Beliefs: Respect for the individual; Superlative customer service; and, The pursuit of excellence in all tasks. Today, the Mission Statement of IBM is a ramblng collection of 64 MBA-jargon-laced words in three very long sentences, which I doubt few of the 400,000 employees could recite, let alone live.   The real purpose of business is to make the world better—in every way possible. Great organizations have a dream that describes how their work is a sacred endeavor that will create a noble legacy. Our research shows that 80% of employees would give up their day jobs if they had a free choice. One of the reasons is that we have lost our way and lack a higher ideal towards which we are striving—something we share, that unites us, and inspires us.  If we get lost during a hike, we use a compass or a GPS. In the corporate world, there is such a device available for us too—it is called a dream. An organization with a dream is unstoppable. A dream for America resulted in the first landing on the moon. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. Dreams are infectious and inspiring.  They have the power to move the hearts and minds of those 80% who want to quit today, to make a difference in the world. Let’s do it!  Let’s reclaim our lost trust and respect! Let’s change the world!   What will your Dream be?   Learn more: Read the White Paper here.