We were working with a large retail company with a well-developed sense of identity and purpose. They believed in providing their customers with products and services to support their health and wellness. This ideology was clear and admirable, but they were selling products which were known to be toxic, and consequently went against everything they stood for.
We helped bring to the surface how hypocritical it would appear to have them promote health and wellness as their purpose while selling these toxic products. We shared with the company’s executives “This is a beautiful purpose! But we have one small problem, and you will be perceived as hypocrites if you do not address this problem.” Then the room went absolutely silent; no longer selling these toxic products in their 7200 stores would cost them an annual income of over a billion dollars and that was going to hurt! Initially, the leadership was not ready to hear this and they were so frightened of taking that giant leap that they put the idea on the back burner.
We persuaded the company to put together a skunkworks group to explore the issue, and eventually, they understood how spectacular it would be for them to take this dramatic step before any of their competition thought to do the same thing. And we figured that at some point their competition would come to the same conclusion we had. We suggested to them that if they were first to the market with this idea, they would get praise from the highest places and reap the benefits of running an organization that was truly aligned with its purpose. However, if they were to come second they would merely be copy-cats.
Whenever a company chooses to do something innovative, there is a certain amount of risk involved, but when a strong purpose supports these bold moves, the results can be inspiring. And that is exactly what happened when this company removed the toxic products from their shelves. The inspiration was reported excitedly in the media, and more importantly, they started a trend and will always be the company that did it first.
It’s that kind of inspiring change that we love to nurture here at Purpose Stone, and we feel proud to be catalysts in what can turn out to be significant developments in the life of the companies we work with and impact millions.