By Dr. Nicolas Narcisse, co-president of Thinkers & Doers
In today’s world, very few haven’t noticed that businesses in all fields are now facing a new challenge – the meaning challenge. Companies are indeed heckled by a widespread mistrust in the capitalist system, in consumption, globalization, marketing, media, etc.
They find themselves subject to a new requirement. The quest for profit can no longer be their only purpose. Under the impulse of a new generation of employees and consumers, companies are driven to reinvent themselves and rethink their model, primarily through their impact on society, the environment, education and any other field they operate in. It is only on this condition that they can now engage their troops, their partners, and their customers.
The CEO: new Chief Executive Engagement Officer
Once we have acknowledged the existence of this meaning challenge, it is then understood that CEOs can no longer be only viable of the company’s performance. They must also, more than ever now, ensure that the purpose is at the heart of the value creation dynamic. Because that’s what it takes to set the business in motion, and nothing else. And this needs to be put in perspective with the word “purpose”, which became fashionable in executive committees worldwide with the publication of Aaron Hurst’s bestseller The Purpose Economy that popularized this concept as the new grail of successful companies. This is what great leaders like Emmanuel Faber (Danone) or Paul Polman (Unilever) understood.
In a sense, beyond being enlightened managers, this new generation of CEOs have become today’s new business heroes. They no longer run a structure but are more than ever the leaders of movements that are tackling social problems. The goal remains the creation of wealth but in line with the new aspirations of societies. There lies the true revolution of large corporate companies: to become moving communities that perform highly, but always in agreement with the common good.
That being said, it is now impossible for us to ignore another concept, which is in line with the emergence of the Chief Engagement Officer: the Citizen Entrepreneur. Indeed, citizen entrepreneurship is an emerging international phenomenon. The global economic situation and the evolution of our societies have allowed the emergence of committed entrepreneurs, concerned with sustainability and social inclusion, who are launching many initiatives with innovative solutions. No longer will any company be able to grow sustainably if it cannot first think of social meaning and impact, along with business. Purpose + business is the winning equation for our companies. This is even our motto at Thinkers & Doers. The meaning of our movement. Companies and entrepreneurs have strong powers: first the ability to invest, to devote money to creating virtuous solutions and second, the ability to reach a massive number of people, employees, citizens and consumers. This creates many opportunities to change things positively.
Today, we have the chance to witness citizen entrepreneurship in all fields, sectors and industries. It’s even impossible for new generations to disconnect their business expertise from the quest for meaning. On a personal level of course. But also from a collective perspective. This generates hope and above all, concrete actions. And engagement.
This new paradigm is changing the way we think and how we manage corporate communication. Communication must now serve not only the corporate image and brand but also go beyond this. Communication is now at the service of engagement and of all its concrete translations, such as employees’ pride and motivation, attracting the best talents, seeking investors’ confidence and the support of public authorities, just to name a few.
Purpose, since that’s what it’s all about, should guide all communications and make them consistent and coherent. Purpose becomes like an editorial line that guides all the brand communication contents, which allows it to become and act as a media.
In the era of storytelling, employees are becoming ambassadors. They must genuinely feel the need to speak on behalf of their company, which has become in the meantime, the brand they represent. Everyone must be able to be a storyteller. In the era of “movement companies”, there is no longer a separation between communication to employees (internal communication) and external stakeholders, everyone is part of the same ecosystem, the same movement!