More common good please! This was the topic of our first impulse workshop on the topic of corporate vision. On the second day of the workshop, we took four hours to work out the contribution of Raidboxes to more common good. Follow the example!
With its tremendous drought and high temperatures, 2018 was unfortunately another a record yearso that the consequences of climate change were also felt on our own doorstep. Politics will not be able to solve the problem alone. Everyone is called upon to do so! Companies in particular, with their great influence, can play a special role.
Therefore, in 2018 we have given a lot of thought to how we can give Raidboxes more meaning step by step and do even more for the common good. The first step was our Impulse Workshopwhich made everyone want to get more involved. The following article shows how you can also develop the topic of sense orientation and common good orientation as a workshop in your company.
The workshop comprises a total of five main parts:
- Set context and explain why
- Work on the mission
- Common good / surplus check
- Formulating the vision
- purpose statement
For the workshop leader it is very helpful to have already dealt with sustainability and purpose. In order to familiarize yourself with the topic, I recommend reading some of the books that I at the end of part 1 at the end of part 1.
After all, it is the task of the workshop leader to set the context and explain why you are dealing with the topic in the first place. Here, you can't just expect all participants to be motivated to get down to business if it's not clear what the overall context is.
It is important for the workshop to concretize the terms. There are usually a lot of things thrown around here. It is important to explain how you understand it in your company. In my opinion it is important to have a good balance. By the terms I understand the following:
Sales - as a symbol for an economic key figure - are particularly important for investors, employees, founders and suppliers. A company without significant sales cannot operate sustainably. Therefore, from my point of view, it is absolutely legitimate, in fact indispensable, to concentrate on this parameter, especially at the beginning. Turnover and profitability create the basis and the necessary security to be able to act sustainably.
The mission is primarily focused on the customer. Our mission is to create freedom for our customers, partners and employees. Here, society still has none of it. At the same time, decisions for the mission can be bad in purely economic terms, if only short-term profits are taken into account.
The Vision is, in my view, almost entirely focused on society. In part 1 I explain the criteria for a good vision.
The Purpose combines the mission and the vision in a common statement. In my view, certain purpose statements represent more of a mission. The important thing here is simply to make clear what you mean by the terms.
Important: From my perspective, an organization can always evolve to serve society to a high degree in the final stage. However, this requires that you create a high value for your customers (mission) and that they are willing to spend money for it (revenues). As an organization, therefore, you always have to manage a certain trade-off and cannot completely swing in one direction (e.g. only common good).
Furthermore, there is a structural problem in our society with capitalism. This has been known in economics for a very long time and has been a topic for ages. Often private actors make profits at the expense of the general public. Negative external effects, such as climate change, are paid for by the general public, e.g. with billions in subsidies for crop losses in 2018. These should actually be priced in and significantly reduce profits.
The example of Lufthansa illustrates this somewhat. I do not want to directly reproach Lufthansa in particular. The problem exists in the entire aviation industry and other sectors.
Whereas normal petrol and diesel for cars and trucks are taxed at least 30%, there is no tax on kerosene. no tax on kerosene! In addition, emissions trading for long-distance flights, which are responsible for the main CO2 emissions, has been suspended.
Since kerosene is one of the main cost factors along with personnel and depreciation, it is easy to calculate what would happen to the profit of 3.3 billion euros if this cost factor becomes 20-30% more expensive. It will definitely be diminished even with certain price increases. Consumers would in turn pay "correct" prices.
If aviation is a negative example here, one can imagine what would happen if every company not only served its customers and direct stakeholders, but also served the general public. What would happen if it is socially desired that companies serve the common good and this is not just a voluntary side effect?
We as a society accept that the invisible hand takes the common good into its own hands. It would be better if everyone were obliged to work towards it.
The result would be that corporations and a broad mass of small and medium-sized enterprises would contribute to positive change instead of being forced by politics to reduce the negative effects somewhat.
This is where the common good economy comes in, which becomes relevant in part 3 of the workshop. As a workshop leader, you should be able to present this topic in a short talk. In preparation for this, I recommend that you read the book Common Good Economy by Christian Felber.
In the founding team, we have often thought about our mission in small circles. However, we have never discussed it as a team.
So the first question was whether everyone was emotionally comfortable with the mission of "giving creatives more freedom" and understood the same thing by it.
The discussion here was open-ended and I, as the workshop leader, could also make statements. However, as the workshop leader, you are primarily responsible for working towards a consensus and, if necessary, synchronizing different words that may mean the same thing.
Results of the workshop part
After our discussion, our mission was amended as follows:
To give you more space
The team could clearly relate more to free space than to the term "freedom" and we replaced the unclear meaning of "creative", which was very broad for us anyway, with the word "you". Knowing full well that this also refers to us as a team.
Bringing Mission to Life
What is a mission on paper worth if it is not lived by? The next question in the round is therefore:
Have there ever been situations where we have chosen our mission?
This question is extremely important. Because, if no decisions are made after a mission, it is worth nothing.
Write this question on a flipchart and collect examples. I myself was positively surprised how many cases came together. The best example in our case is the implementation of "Domains" and "emails". These features have always been desired by our customers to gain more freedom. Purely economically, however, these are rather unfavorable for us.
If there are too few examples, ask your workshop participants why this is and what could be done about it in everyday life.
Discussion of a real example
The most effective tool, however, is to discuss a real-life example where part of the team may have decided against the mission.
With us specifically:
"Should a customer be able to self-adjust their payment interval downward from, say, six months to three months?"
Business economics has a clear answer here and in a discussion in a smaller group before the workshop this perspective had won. The customer should not be given the option, as this means less money is available to the company.
Immediately after becoming more aware of our mission here, the answer in the group was clear: "Of course we want to give our customer the freedom to decide for themselves which payment interval they want to choose."
Probably our most important conclusion for everyday life
Every Raidboxes employee can use our mission as an argument.
After this workshop part, everyone knew our mission. More importantly, everyone now had permission to argue with it when it came to business decisions.
Shortly after that we had the discussion about the procedure for PHP updates. Is it the responsibility of each customer to do them themselves and are they obligated to do so? This would definitely be the easier solution for us.
Considering our mission, the result was that we developed a check mechanism for the PHP update, which automatically checks after an auto-update and plays back the old version if necessary. At the same time, every customer gets the freedom to keep their old, somewhat insecure PHP version in case of problems.
Breaks are a must. It is important to be able to take a breath after a certain amount of input and exhausting discussions.
The next part of the workshop is about sensitizing the team for the different areas of sustainability. The common good balance sheet is an excellent tool in this context, because it gives a 360 degree view of an organization and at the same time it is an open but very well developed tool to evaluate sustainability.
This is a welcome change for participants as the workshop format shifts from discussion to group work.
The procedure is as follows:
- Briefing on the common good balance sheet and explanation of the categories
- Common good assessment Quick test in groups of 2-3 with evaluation of the status quo and improvement measures
- Short presentation of the results in the group
As additional support for the group work, there was the common good balance sheet of an agency, which could create a very concise overview. For the details there was also the workbook of the common good balance.
Here again the complete workshop presentation and all resources for download.
First results of the workshop part
Overall, this aspect has led to an initial awareness of the issues.
Particularly positive: The workshop resulted in the team's first fundraiser for disadvantaged families during the Christmas season. In addition, on the initiative of Leefke and Virginia, our BiteBox, which contains individually packaged snacks, was replaced by large candy jars, which we fill with healthy snacks from the wholesale market to save packaging waste. In addition, we now use toilet paper from Goldeimer. This is a young company that supports sanitation projects of the Welthungerhilfe together with Viva con Agua.
In my opinion, this demonstrates very well that it is important to make it clear from the management level that sustainability is expressly desired and may be implemented.
But also larger areas, such as the introduction of an employee participation program as well as the recording of working hours for documentation and the reduction of overtime, were introduced.
Overtime was a point of discussion, especially in the assessment of the common good balance, as the consensus of the team was that it was normal to work a lot in a startup. While this may be true, it still reduces the common good balance score and action should be taken to improve in this area in the short to medium term.
The last part of the workshop was a short session in individual work.
Here, everyone could answer the above questions in writing. Especially for the development of a corporate vision, guided meditations can also help to let oneself be emotionally transported into the future. It is important that you mentally put yourself in a distant future, at least 10 years.
I consider the second question "What points can we implement today to take the first steps?" to be equally important. This has led to a number of points actually already being implemented.
At the end, everyone transcribed their vision into a shared document and presented it to the group.
Results of the workshop part
Overall, this part of the workshop produced the fewest concrete results that are noticeable in everyday life. In my opinion, it is therefore necessary for sites the management to continue the work on the concretization of the vision and also to let it flow into the company strategy.
In our specific case, this means:
How do we contribute to more equal opportunities with Raidboxes ?
The pithy statement comes from Part 1 of the workshop. Part 2 helped to show a variety of ways to make this possible.
In particular, there was agreement to offer free hosting to initiatives and non-profit associations in order to contribute to more equal opportunities. Some sponsorships already exist in this area, but this should be further developed.
Unfortunately, we did not get to the last step due to time constraints and are only taking it up again this year.
Overall, the timing is already very sporty and requires active moderation from the workshop leader. The sessions could theoretically be conducted over a period of four weeks for one hour each, then with a five-minute repetition of the first part.
The Purpose Statement combines, I think, very nicely the customer and society perspective in one concise statement. This enables better communication among all parties involved and, just like the mission, creates a reference to it in everyday life.
This picture was rightly made fun of by my colleagues. Nevertheless, I think it makes it clear what it is all about. You're not going to save the world in four hours. Nor in four days. It's important to take the first steps and keep going. It is a marathon.
We have achieved all the goals of the workshop and it has already positively influenced our everyday life. This is already a great success. At the same time, the workshop gave us an idea of how we can shape positive change as our company grows. And this makes us want to do more and gives our work even deeper meaning.
Conclusion: Imitation and copying expressly desired! If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave me a comment.