Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fast 50 "Bigger Game" Companies!

Fast 50 Straight from Fast Company Magazine:

"THIS YEAR'S FOCUS: Our sixth annual global readers challenge will spotlight businesses that are helping to save the world. We're looking for profit-driven problem solvers--people and companies out to address the planet's woes and make money at the same time. Tell us about yourself, someone you admire, or someone you work with. But make sure your nominee is using new strategies, new ideas, or new technologies to tackle issues like global warming, pollution, sustainability, access to healthcare, poverty, trade impact, child labor, and other concerns. No charities, please. We believe that business--capitalist business--is a profound force for positive change. Help us prove it."

How cool is this? Fast Company is highlighting "Bigger Game Companies"! They too believe that capitalism can be "conscious" and, and I like to say, a force for positive intentional evolution.

This move toward conscious capitalism, Bigger Game play, corporate social responsibility, and social entrepreneurism is really a growing phenomenon. Something new is happening on the planet. Or actually, it's been happening on a small scale for many years, decades even... but I believe we're reaching a tipping point, and we will only see acceleration from here...

So - get out there now - start your socially responsible investment portfolio (I have an appt next week!). Get in, and get involved! It's time to jump into the pool, the water's fine--refreshing, invigorating and there's plenty of room...

Play bigger, play on...


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Time Is Now!

The Time Is Now! The 50+ generation will leave a legacy by igniting a revolution to reinvent America according to Bill Novelli, current Chief Executive at AARP.

I love this Bigger Game, and the Bigger Game players that are being ignited in their 50's and 60's. My question is this--why wait until you retire? Why not reinvent America wherever you are--here and now? And why stop at re-inventing America, how about we change the world?

For a different take on this one, check out this new social networking community on The Zaadz mission:

"Our Mission. We're gonna change the world. Our math goes like this: you be the change + you follow your bliss + you give your greatest strengths to the world moment to moment to moment + we do everything in our power to help you succeed + you inspire and empower everyone you know to do the same + we team up with millions like us = we just affected billions = we (together) changed the world.

Our Plan. Ours involves
Conscious Capitalism infused with Spirituality and a healthy dose of Enthusiasm, Love, Service, Inspiration, Passion, Humor and Teamwork. People CRAZY enough to think they can change the world, Courageous enough to do something about it, AND Committed enough to stick to it when they feel like giving up.

We’re in the process of building THE most inspired community of people in the world…social networking with a purpose, a community of seekers and conscious entrepreneurs circulating wisdom and inspiration and wealth and all that good stuff. We're passionate about inspiring and empowering people to bring their dreams to life, learning and growing and getting paid to do what they love, using their greatest gifts in the greatest service to the world. (And having fun in the process!)"

And check out this article in US Today - Gen Y Gets Involved. From this article:

"61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world, suggests a survey of 1,800 young people to be released today. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company's social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are "the most socially conscious consumers to date."

Now let's go younger! Check out - with this mission:

"Mission: YouthNoise’s mission is to inspire and empower young people everywhere to catapult their passion and idealism into movements to sustain the planet.

Vision: One day millions of young people around the globe will work together through the YouthNoise platform and beyond it to make their communities and the world a better place for their generation and generations to come."

Okay, so we've got the younger and older generations covered. So what's happening in the middle....? Hmmmm...... Well, that would be a longer post - and it's what a lot of my blog is all about.

The bottom line? The time IS now. And it is happening, there is actually a movement building - a Bigger Game movement. In all generations, there are seeds sprouting into communities of like-minded people. Because it fills us up. It's needed out there (in the world), and we need it too - to know that we are here for a reason, and we CAN do something important with our unique gifts.

Play on, folks. Play on!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Organic and Big Business The Organic Myth -Pastoral Ideals Getting Trampled As Organic Food Goes Mass Market - or so the sub-heading reads for this article. Yes, the organic food market is growing, and feeling some growing pains. And as this article says:

"As food companies scramble to find enough organically grown ingredients, they are inevitably forsaking the pastoral ethos that has defined the organic lifestyle. For some companies, it means keeping thousands of organic cows on industrial-scale feedlots. For others, the scarcity of organic ingredients means looking as far afield as China, Sierra Leone, and Brazil -- places where standards may be hard to enforce, workers' wages and living conditions are a worry, and, say critics, increased farmland sometimes comes at a cost to the environment."

For a different perspective on this growth, I encourage you to read Organic, Inc.

Here's where I am landing on this organic movement - we aren't going to go back to subsistence farming. Big Business is here to stay, so let's ring in a new era of conscious capitalism that includes the Krafts, General Mills, and Wal-Marts of the world. Ain't it grand?!! There aren't enough organic farmers to fill demand for organic products! In a free market society, prices will go up, and more farmers will make the shift sooner, because they will actually be able to make a living again. And yes, big factory farms will find a way to eliminate pesticides, growth hormones, and other environmentally unsound practices so that they too can help meet this market demand. Yes to that! Fewer pesticides! More environmentally sound farming practices!

Folks - this is good news overall for the planet. And for our bodies. And for our grandchildren. Oh for the day when all farms of all shapes and sizes are 100% organic... - OPINION - Businesses with a Higher Purpose? - OPINION Businesses with a higher purpose?
Corporations today want to win — no matter the cost. But instead of thinking about just the bottom line, what about social capital? Perhaps business schools could change their ways — and maybe the world.
By Alan M. Webber

Click to USA Today to read the full article--it's worth the read if you have been following my posts about "playing bigger games" in your personal life and your work life. I am a firm believer that corporations are the most influential forces for good and evil in the world today. I also believe that corporations, small and medium sized businesses and institutions of all kinds are made up of people like you and me. And that fundamentally, once we get past the first few layers of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we want to make a lasting positive difference in the world. And frankly, too often, we wake up at 35, 40 or even later, realizing that perhaps we're missing this most important point.

So, kudos to USA Today and Alan M. Webber for voicing this opinion. Alan, have you recently attended a Bigger Game workshop? Or that's it - you've been reading my blog? You even used the lingo! I'm impressed. Here's how Alan sums it all up (colors added by me):

What if, instead of seeking to create shareholder value as their definition of success, business men and women sought to establish well-articulated social values — and then applied them to their own careers and organizations? What if, instead of writing books called "Winning," they called their books "Contributing"? And what if, instead of measuring success only by their ability to amass financial capital, they also sought to grow social capital?

Because the real problem with business today isn't the few scoundrels who bring disgrace to so many honest managers. The real problem is that it needs to serve a higher purpose than making a lot of money. The challenge today is to answer a fundamental question: Is capitalism going to be the salvation of the world? Or the cause of its demise?

The big picture

This is hardly an academic question, what with issues of global warming, the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, and the seeds of war and terrorism sown by divergent economic systems. Business leaders need to espouse a bigger game than just winning that connects to a view of the world as an interconnected community, where the future of the wealthiest depends in equal measure on the future of the poorest.

MBA students need to think about this bigger game that asks fundamental questions about the purpose and sustainability of business. And it's a game that will eliminate most cheating — unless, to paraphrase Woody Allen, students who want to serve a higher purpose cheat by looking at the soul of the student next to them.
Alan M. Webber is co-founding editor of Fast Company magazine and former editorial director of the Harvard Business Review.

Here's an interesting link to another very different kind of publication - What is Enlightenment? magazine. They did an entire issue devoted to this issue "Will Big Business Destroy or Save the World?. If this USA Today article is intriquing, read on. You can order the back-issue for $7.50.

Play on...

Chemicals Within Us @ National Geographic Magazine

Read this eye-opening article about chemical exposure from everyday living. While the author has decided to continue his current lifestyle, this re-confirms my commitment to organic, natural products whenever possible. The bottom-line is this - in most cases we don't know the long term effects of toxic chemicals in our body, or in our environment. I prefer to be conservative on this. No one knew DDT was deadly, until people started dying.

As far as flame retardents in furniture, cars, airplanes, carpets.... well, the author of this article, David Ewing Duncan, had 10 times the average level of Americans--see below:

"I hope you are not nervous, but this concentration is very high," Bergman says with a light Swedish accent. My blood level of one particularly toxic PBDE, found primarily in U.S.-made products, is 10 times the average found in a small study of U.S. residents and more than 200 times the average in Sweden. The news about another PBDE variant—also toxic to animals—is nearly as bad. "

His guess about the source of exposure - perhaps the 200,000 miles in an airplane last year. But no one knows for sure. Further on in the article:

In 2001, researchers in Sweden fed young mice a PBDE mixture similar to one used in furniture and found that they did poorly on tests of learning, memory, and behavior. Last year, scientists at Berlin's Charité University Medical School reported that pregnant female rats with PBDE levels no higher than mine gave birth to male pups with impaired reproductive health. Linda Birnbaum, an EPA expert on these flame retardants, says that researchers will have to identify many more people with high PBDE exposures, like the Oakland family and me, before they will be able to detect any human effects. Bergman says that in a pregnant woman my levels would be of concern. "Any level above a hundred parts per billion is a risk to newborns," he guesses. No one knows for sure. "

Any margin of safety may be narrowing. In a review of several studies, Ronald Hites of Indiana University found an exponential rise in people and animals, with the levels doubling every three to five years. Now the CDC is putting a comprehensive study of PBDE levels in the U.S. on a fast track, with results due out late this year. Pirkle, who is running the study, says my seemingly extreme levels may no longer be out of the ordinary. "We'll let you know," he says.

So--here's a challenge to the chemical industry, and it relates back to a previous post on "Green Chemistry"--let's use our incredible human ingenuity and resourcefulness to replace these chemicals with non-toxic alternatives. That's "innovation that matters" to me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry

Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry - trying to make the planet cleaner and safer and more profitable - chemistry with a conscious. Dupont is mentioned for changes to the way that Teflon is produced. Proctor and Gamble is working with Poliakoff to hopefully make plastic blafs out of sugar cane in Ethiopia, which are edible by cows.

Green chemistry starts with the first of 12 principals--"it is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created".

Ain't that the truth?!

Yale to Train Corporate Directors on Climate Change

Yale to Train Corporate Directors on Climate Change

This news is a bit old, but shows that this climate change stuff is being taken very seriously. Good news for students and adults that want to make a difference. There are many educational programs and institutions to choose from...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Moving Pictures - Jeff Skoll, and Participant Productions is the first film company to be founded on a mission of social impact through storytelling

Moving Pictures tells the story of a "Bigger Game" in the film industry. From this Fast Company article:

Participant Productions is the first film company to be founded on a mission of social impact through storytelling. But it's no charity. It's a pro-social commercial operation, a hybrid emblematic of the social-entrepreneurship movement. "Ultimately, the goal here is to build a brand around social relevance in media," Skoll says. He staked the company $100 million for its first three years; every script is evaluated equally on its creative and commercial potential and its ability to boost awareness of one of six issues: the environment, health, human rights, institutional responsibility, peace and tolerance, and social and economic equity. For each project, Participant execs with nonprofit backgrounds reach out to public-sector partners, from the ACLU to the Sierra Club, for their opinions. If those partners don't think they can build an effective action campaign around the film, it's a no-go. At the same time, "It can't be good-for-you spinach, or it's not going to work," says Participant's president, Ricky Strauss, a former production and advertising exec at Columbia and Sony Pictures Entertainment. "The more mainstream the story, the more opportunity to make an impact."

In the face of challenges ranging from global warming to threats to civil liberties, Skoll aims to inspire hope, then action. "Time and time again, you see this outpouring from people once they're made aware they can do something," he says. "That's the principle that drives this company."

Now, less than three years since it was founded, audienParticipant has gone from an unknown quantity to the force behind some of the most talked-about films of 2005 and 2006. Syriana (which took on the oil industry), Good Night, and Good Luck (McCarthyism and freedom of the press), North Country (sexual harassment), and the documentary Murderball (living with a disability) garnered a combined 11 Oscar nominations, with one win. An Inconvenient Truth, better known as "that Al Gore movie," scored international headlines and sold-out opening audiences.

My comments: Bravo to Jeff Skoll and his vision, which is even grander - to make Participant Productions into a full blown media company - integrating the movies, the web, and TV. I think The Bigger Game Company should team up with Jeff Skoll!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 The social entrepreneur, Bigger Game Player (and Funder!) - Bill Drayton The social entrepreneur: Bill Drayton

Not a new article - but new to me! I love this idea of social entrepreneurs - defined by Bill Drayton as "individuals who combine the pragmatic and results-oriented methods of a business entrepreneur with the goals of a social reformer. It gives me great hope that folks like Bill Drayton exist. Here's what he's up to according to US News:

"Through his global nonprofit, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, based in Arlington, Va., Drayton aims to find change-making leaders around the world, provide them with support and modest "social venture capital," and watch as they transform ingrained institutions and improve lives exponentially."

This is so very much in alignment with one of my favorite companies - The Bigger Game Company. Clearly, Bill Drayton is enabling social entrepreneurs to play Bigger Games, and as he plays his own...

Where there's a will, there's a way....

Saturday, September 23, 2006

GreenBiz News | BP Launches Climate Neutral Driving for U.K. Drivers

GreenBiz News BP Launches Climate Neutral Driving for U.K. Drivers

Interesting. My initial reaction is a bit of disbelief that contributing $38 per year will truly offset the carbon released by a car driven 10,000 miles annually. I'll need to do a bit more reading. While better than nothing, I get a bit concerned that this could remove driver's guilt, and not REALLY fix the problem. - Branson pledges $3B to fight climate change - Sep 21, 2006 - Branson pledges $3B to fight climate change - Sep 21, 2006

I'm in awe, really. Yes, I know he has the money. That's not the point. He is doing something really important with that money. Thank you Richard. Who will step up next?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ethical Corporation: Columnists - Green business - Creating the climate for change

Ethical Corporation: Columnists - Green business - Creating the climate for change

An interesting perspective from Mallen Baker in the UK for Ethical Corporation Magazine. "An Inconvenient Truth" just came out in the UK. Interesting to me was his perspective and frustration that so much of the film was dedicated to the lengthy rebuttal of climate skeptics. Apparently that skepticism is a "distinctively US" dabate. Bottom line - it's time for individuals, governments and corporations to take action!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ethical Corporation: By Invitation - Innovation, competitiveness and responsibility - The new frontier of corporate responsibility

Ethical Corporation: Innovation, competitiveness and responsibility - The new frontier of corporate responsibility

In a must-read article on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and innovation from Ethical Corporation Magazine, a distinction is drawn between "Value Protection", and "Value Creation".

"Value Protection" activities are described in the article as "corporate responsibility to protect the value of the existing assets of the firm. "

From the article "For example, oil and energy companies can reduce their environmental burden, while still exploring, transporting and selling oil and energy products, which ultimately damage the environment through carbon dioxide release. "

An even greater call for Innovation is required for "Value Creation". Here's where it gets really intriguing and compelling to me - this is what IBMer's call "Innovation that Matters to the World". It requires not only product of process innovation, but oftentimes business model innovation. In other words, "Value Creation" might change much about the way a business interacts in the world, and earns shareholder returns.

The article is worth a reading as a whole. Here is a snippet:

"Innovation here means new products and services that are adopted by users and consumers enabling companies to compete by creating and supplying new markets that replace existing, less sustainable markets and patterns of production and consumption.

In this sense corporate responsibility takes the form of value creation, by providing the ground for companies to generate a new basis for value.

The challenge of innovation for sustainable development is that it is not an easy process. It requires products and services based on new technologies, often embedded in new business models, and altered social institutions and patterns of use.

To create these technologies and to support their embedding in society and institutions, companies need to undertake co-operative action with other producers, with consumers and other stakeholders in order to ensure that those innovations are more responsible than past ones and as a way to promote their rapid adoption."

In my opinion, as a business person, I see a need for both value protection and value creation. Strategically, I would like to see corporations look at "the greatest good" and "the greatest harm" they can create in the world, and to eliminate the harm, to become truly sustainable with net zero impact on the environment. However, we need to also look at what can be done tactically NOW to become more responsible, to our employees, stockholders and stakeholders (including future generations, who need a clean planet).

For an interesting read that is in alignment with the "Value Creation" model, check out Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. You might want to google them too... lots to explore here. Innovation that Matters....

Zero net energy building project recruits nine more international companies

Zero net energy building project recruits nine more international companies

Interesting project with backing from some large corporations, including United Technology Corporation and Dupont. For my fellow IBMer's, IBM is a new member of the WBCSD, but not yet signed up for this initiative. Still, to me this constitutes Innovation that Matters to the World in a very big way. Unfortunately, it is only a study, and the recommendations will be coming out in 3 years. We need them today!

Here's the first part of the announcement from the web:

Geneva, 5 September, 2006 - The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announced today that nine more multinationals have joined the Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) project. The EEB will map out the necessary changes to achieve a world in which buildings consume zero net energy. The three year project will identify how to demolish barriers, transform attitudes and change the business climate. It will conclude in 2009 with a call to action to all those involved in buildings and energy use.
"Buildings today represent one-third of the world's energy demand, and energy consumption is expected to grow by an additional 45 percent by 2025,"...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Walmart - The green machine - August 7, 2006

The green machine - August 7, 2006. Wal-Mart is going green. Or at least green"er". This comprehensive article tells the 2+ year story that has already led to some pretty impressive changes at Wal-Mart. While some are still actively debating CEO Lee Scott's real motives, I want to believe that he is starting to drink the kool-aid, or rather, the organic milk. He has certainly invested heavily in this green initiative. Now, if he would just start thinking about the sustainability of his employees - and their healthcare needs... but that's another topic.

I am actually considering going back into Wal-Mart to look for organic cotton clothing...

This is getting lots of interesting press and blogging. To read more - google Wal-Mart green.

Regardless of whether you believe that this green initiative is profit-driven, or based on a true caring for the environment, the impact to the environment will be positive. And Wal-Mart is a very interesting communication and interaction channel to middle-America, a population that in many cases is simply not aware of the environmental issues we face... Will Wal-Mart wake them up? I can only hope for the best...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Discovery Channel :: Global Warming :: with Tom Brokaw

Discovery Channel :: Global Warming :: About the Show

Well, Tom Brokaw interviews experts, and shares the current facts about global warming. The science is overwhelming - and very consistent with Al Gore's movie - An Inconvenient Truth. Everyone needs to understand the facts, and now you have another option. This is airing tonight again at 8pm (July 22).

Incidentally, I saw an Inconvenient Truth again with a girlfriend in Chicago this week, and I plan to see it with another set of friends in Syracuse again. We can fix this problem, if we address it now - or very soon - in a very focused and intentional way. Let's be part of that solution, and help it to start sooner, rather than later.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 The Greener Guys The Greener Guys

Timberland, IBM, Dupont, 3M, Advanced Micro Devices, the Gap, Wal-Mart, and Johnson & Johnson are all mentioned as "greener guys" in this article on global warming, and reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the article also states that "only 86 companies in the United States, accounting for 8 percent of domestic carbon emissions, have enrolled in Climate Leaders, the Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary program to cut emissions. Emissions in the United States have risen 16 percent since 1990, the agency said."

From IBM's website regarding the topic of climate change--"IBM believes the most constructive approach it can take to address the complex issue of climate change is to apply its technical and engineering expertise to reduce emissions associated with its own operations, and to create products that are increasingly energy efficient."

IBM joined the U.S. EPA 's Climate Leader program in 2002, and has achieved an average CO2 emisions reduction of 6.11 percent from 2000 thru 2003, and a 55.3 percent reduction in the emissions of 6 greenhouse gases.

Further on, the article continues... "Experts say that large reductions in global emissions — 50 percent or more by 2050 — are needed to stop carbon concentrations from rising. But reaching that goal requires a major transformation of how economies and businesses operate. "It's going to change everything we do," said Joseph J. Romm, an analyst at the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, a group that helps businesses lower emissions."

This sounds like a clear call to action--"a major transformation of how economies and businesses operate"... and a call for Innovation that Matters to me, and to everyone on this planet. To my colleagues at IBM, I say, this is an opportunity--in alignment with our coorporate values, and I would hope, with our individual personal values, provided you believe the peer-reviewed scientific conclusions presented most comprehensively by Al Gore in "An Inconvenient Truth".

What is your company's record on climate control, and protecting the environment? How can you have an impact? If not you, then who? And when? - Gore's Global Warming Film Gets Rave Reviews From Climate Scientists - Science News | Current Articles - Gore's Global Warming Film Gets Rave Reviews From Climate Scientists - Science News Current Articles

Tonight my husband, my 13 year old-daughter, her girlfriend, and my 10 year old son went to see An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's documentary about global warming. Other than me, my son was the only one that really wanted to go, but I let everyone know (other than Kelsey's friend) that staying home wasn't an option. Kelsey thought it would be "boring", too much science. She couldn't have been more wrong. And we all agree - including Kelsey - everyone on the planet needs to see this movie.

Al Gore presents just the right amount of scientific fact to wake us all up to an incredibly scary issue. Our planet and our lives are in jeopardy IF we don't make changes NOW. In fact, I walked out wondering if it could be too late. AND I am an optimist. Kelsey said she is not sure if she wants to have kids. My husband said the movie should be shown in every school. I said that the movie should be shown in every business.

This is a movie that matters. It matters more than any other movie you might consider seeing this year. And guess what, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

As I have said before, we are not bad people. We are simply unaware of the impact of our actions. This film lets us clearly understand the impact we are already having on the planet. In the movie, Al Gore writes these two equations. Old Habits + Old Technology = Predictable Results. Old Habits + New Technology = Unforeseen Consequences. He uses the example of how warfare changed as we went from simple weapons like spears to guns, tanks, and then the atomic bomb. Suddenly, we became aware that our old habits of taking up arms could destroy the planet! Well, in every industry, in every past-time, we are using new technology that requires energy to do it's thing! Much of that energy burns and adds carbon into the atmosphere, thickening the blanket that keeps us warm. Unfortunately, this is causing some unforeseen consequences... the ice caps are melting. The hottest 10 years on record on the planet have occured in the last 14 years. Check out the climate change facts. The unforeseen consequences are actually very visible in this film, and the path ahead looks very dim, unless we collectively open our eyes and take action.

So see the movie. Bring your kids. Go with friends. Organize a group to attend together. Read the book. Click here for some actions to get started - as a citizen.

And now let's talk a little bit about one of the IBM Values--Innovation that Matters to our company, our clients and the world.... Where there is a challenge- - like global warming, there is an opportunity. In this case, a tremendous opportunity to innovate. As corporate and global citizens, we need to leverage our research and development, our existing technologies and our ingenuity and creativity to find more energy efficient and environmentally sound business, engineering, and production processes! AND we need to design and develop energy efficient, environmentally sound products! And in IBM, we are doing some of that. I say, let's kick it up a notch or two (or ten!).

Most of us have an innate desire to live a life that matters. Sometimes, we think it's enough to raise a loving child, or help a friend, and these are important actions. I am asking you each to consider playing bigger - maybe even playing a Bigger Game. Like Al Gore. His game field is the planet. His compelling purpose is to wake us up so we can save it. I'm in - how about you?

Friday, February 17, 2006

IBM to Focus on Infection Disease Containment, and Finding Your Passion at Work

IBM and Scripps Research Institute to Collaborate on Pandemic Research; ''Project Check-mate'' To Focus on Infectious Disease Containment. This is what makes me proud to be an IBMer. And absolutely, this is about playing a bigger game. For me, from inside of IBM, it feels like we are beginning to put some real meat around the IBM Value, Innovation that Matters. Believe it or not, we have a VP of Global Pandemic Strategy (Roland Harris III).

I know how important it is for me to feel like my work at IBM makes a difference. And it seems that I am not alone - we all want that, don't we? Personal passion or full engagement at work is getting lots of attention right now in popular business books. There is research from Gallup , Institute for Employment Studies, and the Corporate Leadership Council and other sources that indicates that a very large percentage of the workforce is not fully engaged at work, and this is drastically impacting business results!

Many books have been written in the last 5 years that speak to igniting the passion in the workforce, getting the right people in the right jobs, leveraging their strengths, and increasing innovation and productivity. I think one of the best books is The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, not Time is the Key to High Performance. The book is based on years of experiencing in training worldclass athletes to be at their best, and has since been leveraged to build "corporate athletes". Other books include Covey's The Eighth Habit, and Marcus Buckingham's Now Discover Your Strengths. And I stumbled on these books without even trying!

My job at IBM is to develop and enhance the leadership competencies of our sales leaders. Well, guess what? The highest level competency behaviors require a fully engaged employee. Think about it, if you're not fully engaged at work, are you going to take strategic risks, embrace challenge (really!), and go out of your way to develop yourself and other people? Our most effective and inspiring leaders breathe passion and engagement, and they breed it in those around them, like an infection!

These are the leaders, fully engaged, at IBM, and all over the world, that will drive "Innovation that Matters to IBM, our clients and the world". Because they know "what matters" to them, and they care enough to find out "what matters" to their clients. And they are bold enough to draw outside the lines of a typical seller, who will "meet a client's needs", or help a client "solve a business problem" (which are still important - of course!). They will stretch themselves and their clients to play bigger. To dare to think beyond driving profit, and cutting costs, to make an positive impact in their industry, and to drive the human race forward, intentionally. At our best, IBM is already working on curing cancer, stopping pandemics, improving healthcare, transitioning IBMer's to teaching positions, and so much more, as is offered up in our current report on Innovation in Corporate Responsibility.

So let's get personal here... How engaged are you at work on a scale from 1 - 10? How often do you notice yourself "disengaging" - from a conversation, a project, a conference call, a colleague? What brought you to your current job/career? How engaged are your peers, and other employees? How can you increase the passion, and the sense of fulfillment that you get from your work?

Maybe the most important question of all.... what matters to you? And how can you be doing more of that?!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Innovations in Corporate Responsibility - IBM

This was a headline on our IBM corporate Intranet this morning, and it really caught my eye. has just published "Innovations in Corporate Responsibility 2004-2005", which highlights the company's corporate responsibility activities and updates most of the data that IBM reports on a regular basis.

I haven't read it yet, but I know IBM does some really great things, more than I realized. And I hope to read how much more we are planning to do... More comments after I actually read the report, and I would love your comments too. What do you want from our major corporations, many of them with more economic pull than medium sized countries? What do you expect beyond shareholder returns? And how do you let them (big corporations) know what's acceptable, and what's not?

Corporations are constantly trying to assess marketplace needs and wants, and they are looking at the some really simple things, like what are people buying! So basically, everyday as we purchase products (groceries, electronics, vacations, supplies, gifts, services, gas, power...), we are voting "yes, more of this!". We are rewarding producers of goods and services with our $$$, and basically telling them that we support their practices and methods by which these good/services are produced and delivered to us.

Frankly, I never thought of it this way until fairly recently. So it's not even a conscious vote, I believe, for most people. Many of us are just on auto-pilot, trying to provide for our families and our future - right? We are good people, overall, and we don't know what we don't know about the environmental and economic impact of these purchases. Until we really start to look... And I have started to look, and to "vote" much differently with my dollars.

I am buying almost all organic foods, not just because I want the best health/least risk for my family, but because I want to support companies and small businesses, and farms that produce these goods with much less impact on the environment! I am buying environmentally friendly cleaning products, and in general, to buy from companies that I believe are "doing the right things" for the world. In 2006, I plan to purchase windpower for my electricity at home. I plan to shift my investments to socially responsibile corporations/funds. And you know what, it takes a bit more conscious thought, but it feels really right, and empowering. And I am trying to teach my kids to think about these things as well (but that's another blog topic!).

So I encourage you to think about how you are voting with your $$$. Even small changes can make a difference, and send the message to corporations and other institutions that we do care about our neighbors, and the health of our familes, and our environment. And if you want to be more explicit about that message, here's a link to the "Take Action" page on Co-op America website, one of my new favorite places for exploring more socially responsible living.

Is my skin turning "green"? No, not visibly... But I think my heart is...