More common good please! This was the topic of our first impulse workshop on the topic of corporate vision. On the second workshop day, we took four hours to work out the contribution of Raidboxes to more common good. Follow the example!
The consequences of climate change are now also being felt on our own doorstep, for example through enormous drought, flooding, storms or forest fires. Politics will not be able to solve the problem alone. Everyone is called upon to do so! Businesses in particular, with their great influence, can play a special role.
That's why in 2018 we gave 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 workshop, which 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 in five steps
- Set context and explain the "why
- Work on the mission
- Common good / surplus check
- Formulating the vision
- purpose statement
For the workshop leader - in this case me - it is very helpful to have already dealt with sustainability and purpose. To familiarise yourself, I recommend the reading I have listed at the end of Part 1.
After all, it's the leader's job to set the context for the workshop and explain why you're addressing the topic in the first place. You can't just expect everyone 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 concretise the terms. There are usually many things that get mixed up here. It is important to explain how you understand it in your company. In my opinion, it is important to have a good balance. Under 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. Sales and profitability create the basis and the necessary security to be able to act sustainably.
The mission is primarily focused on customers. Our mission is to create freedom for our customers, partners and employees. Here, society still has nothing to gain. At the same time, decisions for the mission can be bad in purely economic terms if only short-term profits are taken into account.
In my view, the vision is almost completely focused on society. In the article on Workshop 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 are more of a mission. It is important to clarify what you mean by the terms.
Important: In my view, an organization can always develop further in order to serve society to a high degree in the final stage. However, this presupposes that the company creates a high value for its customers (mission) and that they are willing to spend money on it (sales). As an organization, one must therefore always manage a certain tradeoff and cannot completely swing in one direction (e.g., only the 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. Private individuals often make profits at the expense of the general public. Negative external effects, such as climate change, are paid for by the general public, for example 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 there is at least 30% tax on normal petrol and diesel for cars and trucks, there is no tax on paraffin. Moreover, emissions trading for long-distance flights, which are largely responsible for CO2, 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 became 20 to 30 percent more expensive. It would definitely be reduced even with certain price increases. In turn, travelers would 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 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 Economy for the Common Good comes in, which will be relevant in part 3 of the workshop. As a workshop leader, you should be able to present this topic in a short talk. As preparation for this I recommend you to read the book Economy for the Common Good 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.
The question was therefore first of all whether everyone was emotionally comfortable with the mission of "giving creative people more freedom" and understood the same thing by it.
The discussion here was open-ended and I, as the workshop leader, was also able to make statements. However, as the workshop leader, you are primarily responsible for working towards a consensus and, if necessary, better synchronizing different words that may mean the same thing.
Results of the workshop unit
After our discussion, our mission was amended as follows:
To give you more space
The team was much more comfortable with the term "Freiraum" than with 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 pleasantly surprised at how many cases came together. The best example for us is the implementation of "domains" and "e-mails". Our customers have always wanted these features in order to gain more freedom. From a purely economic point of view, however, these are rather unfavorable for us.
If there are too few examples, ask everyone what the reason is and what could be done about it on a day-to-day basis.
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 independently adjust the payment interval downward, for example, from 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 we became more aware of our mission here, the answer in the group was clear: "Of course, we want to give our customers the freedom to decide for themselves which payment interval they want to choose."
Probably our most important conclusion for everyday life: Every Raidboxes team member can use our mission as an argument for decisions!
After this session of the workshop, 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. Are the customers themselves responsible for performing them and are they obliged to do so? This would definitely be the easier solution for us.
Taking into account our mission, the result was that we developed a check mechanism for the PHP update, which automatically checks after an autoupdate and restores the old version if necessary. At the same time, our customers are given 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 workshop section is about sensitising the team to the different areas of sustainability. The common good balance sheet is an excellent tool in this context, as it gives a 360 degree view of an organization and at the same time is an open yet very well developed tool to assess 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 to 3 with assessment 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.
First results of the workshop unit
Overall, this aspect has led to an initial awareness of the issues.
One particularly positive outcome of the workshop was the team's first fundraising campaign for disadvantaged families over the Christmas period. In addition, on the initiative of Leefke and Virginia, our BiteBox, which contains individually wrapped small snacks, was replaced by large jars of sweets, which we fill with healthy snacks from the supermarket to reduce packaging waste.
Overall, this aspect has led to an initial awareness of the issues.
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 start-up. While this may be true, it still reduces the value of the common good balance and action should be taken to improve in this area in the short to medium term.
The last unit 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 just as important. This has led to some 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 unit
Overall, this part of the workshop produced the fewest concrete results that are noticeable in everyday life. In my opinion, it is therefore necessary on the part of the management to continue working on the concretisation of the vision and to also include it in the company strategy.
In our specific case, this means:
How do we contribute to more equal opportunities with Raidboxes?
The concise 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.
All in all, the scheduling was already very sporty and required active moderation from me as the workshop leader. The sessions could theoretically be held over a period of four weeks for one hour each, then with a five-minute repetition of the first part.
In my opinion, the purpose statement wonderfully combines the perspectives of customers and society in one concise statement. This enables better communication between all parties involved and, just like the mission, creates the opportunity to refer to it in everyday life.
Everyone rightly made fun of this picture. Nevertheless, I think it makes it clear what it's all about. You won't save the world in four hours. Not even in four days. It's important to take the first steps and keep going. It's 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: Copying and imitating expressly encouraged! If you have any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment.