Most of the strategic choices we make in our organizations are in pursuit of market share, profit and ultimately company value. You could say they're all driven in some form or another by monetary reward.
These are, in and of themselves, not necessarily negative (Without at least two of them, you'll struggle to have a viable long term business.) The dogged pursuit of them, however, can come at the expense of other aspects of a healthy business.
The next time you're due for a strategic review, rather than just resting on the pursuit of monetary gain, why not think about some alternative strategic choices? I've seen a number of organizations eschewing the standard approach of business growth and move toward building a more thoughtful, purposeful mission.
Here are just three examples:
Choosing employee wellbeing instead of profit.
Buoyed by a discussion with a disgruntled employee over pay, Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity payments decided in 2015 that he wanted to provide a living wage of $70,000 for all his employees. In the world of excessive CEO pay and rising income inequality, why, he reasoned, should he be benefiting from his growing firm with 10 years of living expenses when some of his employees couldn't afford a flight home to see their family?
Over the course of the next four years, he reduced his own salary from $1.1 million to $70,000, sold the majority of his shares and two houses in order to put $3 million into the business to pay for the wage increase.
The reaction was a mixture of accolade, criticism and even one lawsuit but since then profits have grown and the company has expanded to 200 employees. It even resulted in him being bought a brand new car by his employees to replace the beater he was driving.
Are there parts of your organization where you could invest more in your employee's wellbeing at the potential expense of your profit margins and what might be the upside for you and your team?
Customer experience instead of market share.
In the fields of Cardigan in Wales, the greatest conference you've never heard of has been taking place each spring for the last 10 years. The Do Lectures, run by David and Claire Hieatt, is an intimate gathering of about 100 people discussing some of the world's toughest issues... in a cowshed. They do no real PR, have limited sponsorship opportunities and each year tickets sell out on their first day of release. I had the honor of attending in 2012 and can conceivably say it changed my life.
Every year when David and the founding team get-together to review their plans for next year, the same question gets asked; "Shall we make it bigger this year?" The answer is almost always "No, but we should make it better."
For the Do team, customer experience is much more important than gaining a bigger market share. Although they could easily sell out the conference ten times over, they know it wouldn't create the same intimate environment for their attendees. They choose to put a cap on their growth, and they're better off for it.
Are there aspects in your business where pursuing a superior customer experience is the right thing to do but you're scared because it would put a cap on your growth?
Community impact instead of company value
When the corporate tax cut of 2017 came into effect most organizations used it to pay off debt or buy back shares to the delight of many a shareholder, a few gave a small bonus to employees, but Patagonia took a completely different route.
The company donated all $10 million it received to groups aiming to help the planet and fight climate change. In their official press release, their CEO, Rose Marcario, said that the planet needed the money more than the company.
This is separate from Patagonia's ongoing 1 percent for the Planet program which donates 1% of all profits to environmental causes.
The company has built an image of being a protector of the planet but it hasn't come at the expense of its bottom line.
What choices can you make that lead to a more positive impact on the community around you?