I came across some reviews of this book recently and it’s definitely going to be my holiday read for 2014 – I love the holistic concept and how the book appears to challenge the very “genes” of capitalism. The philosophy presented by the co-authors (Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth) redefine great companies as stakeholder value builders, not just shareholder agents. This book is about companies who ‘get it’ who recognize that doing good is good business.
They researched hundreds of companies that people love, put them through a stringent set of screening criteria to arrive at a final set of 28 Firms of Endearment: companies truly loved by all who come in contact with them – customers, employees, suppliers, environmentalists, the community, even governments! These companies pay their employees well, provide real value to customers, have thriving suppliers and deliver superior returns to their investors. The book makes a strong case that the organisations that are thriving in this age of change and uncertainty are companies that focus on core principles, values and a purpose beyond simply making a profit.
What are the characteristics of these special Firms of Endearment?
They align the interest of all stakeholder groups, not just balance them.
They make a conscious effort to hire people who are passionate about the company and its products.
They project a genuine passion for customers, and emotionally connect with customers at a deep level.
They view suppliers as true partners and encourage suppliers to collaborate with them in moving both their companies forward.
They consider their corporate culture to be their greatest asset and primary source of competitive advantage.
They have a purpose more broad than just wealth generation.
They recognise that they are part of an economic ecosystem with many interdependent participants.
OK before you think I’m aligning myself with some sort of social revolution and painting a picture of myself some kind of do-gooder only coming to work ‘to make a difference’, let me talk about my perspective on all of this (even before I read the book!). I absolutely 100% buy into the ‘passion and purpose’ equation. When we founded Fastnet our value proposition was very clear from the outset – ‘Not Just Placers…..Partners’. This wasn’t just a slick marketing tagline – this is our commitment to true partnership.
I can confidently say 15 years later that this partnership philosophy remains at the centre of our business. We have hired people who are passionate about Fastnet and our values, we have always put our customers (clients and candidates) first and focused on delivering real value. Sure -we have made mistakes, we have had some tough times but through all of that we have built meaningful relationships with all our stakeholders and the genuine passion and purpose continues to be a common denominator. I don’t think it’s any accident that 80% of our business is repeat business.
There is no doubt that growth and profitability has to be a key target for all commercial enterprises but why can’t we achieve prosperity as a consequence of creating something really valid we are proud of – not just because it’s politically correct, because it’s the only path to long-term competitive advantage.
As you can see this book will be preaching to the converted but I’m looking forward to learning more about these Firms of Endearment. I’ll let you know how I get on……..
Niamh is the Managing Director of Fastnet Recruitment & Search. Fastnet is a leading specialist Recruitment Retained Search & Outsourcing firm primarily supporting clients in the Life Sciences, Food/Agri and Business Services sectors.
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