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6 Steps for Turning Corporate Responsibility Into Bottom Line Growth

Posted July 24, 2014 by Editor
two starbucks coffees

This post was written by Esther Luk, an associate here at Jump. You can get in touch with her by commenting on this post. 

Whether we’re talking about a startup with 10 employees or a multinational corporation with offices all around the world, one thing is hard to deny: nearly all companies have unique resources at their disposal to set the stage for their mission and create a positive impact on the world. 

The best forms of corporate responsibility are those that leverage what your company is best at. By finding out what you’re best at, you can look for causes that align with those strengths and find a way to make a greater impact than simply volunteering in off hours or packing boxes with school supplies. It’s up to you to decide what purpose you seek to impact, how much you should invest, and what workstream you’ll use to realize that purpose.

You can leverage what your company is best at by adapting your social impact strategy to what’s relevant for your business. Here are a few steps for figuring out a cause that you can get behind:

1. Envision: What does your dream world look like? How can you and your company play a part in making this happen?

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, has always had a vision for a different kind of company, not just a different kind of coffee. He hoped to bring the feeling of connection felt in Italian coffee shops to the States. The mission statement of Starbucks is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit–one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Over the years, Starbucks has achieved this vision through strategic investments, like providing market-leading benefits for part-time employees.

The company will soon provide a free online education to thousands of its workers (without requiring that they remain with the company long-term). The company has always been fairly unique in its approach to its employees, but this effort goes above and beyond. With it, Starbucks is leveraging its resources to build a more robust, educated workforce—something that, despite a few potential downsides, is to be admired.

2. Articulate: What kind of headline would be ideal for your business? Outside of your business itself, what do you want to be known for?

In 2010, Unilever made a public commitment to double profits and halve its environmental footprint by 2020. The company decided that a durable, sustainable business model would be one that factored in the externalities of doing business. It examined the broader trends affecting resource depletion and decided that it had a powerful role in counteracting them.

3. Reflect: Find your competitive advantage—what types of competencies, resources, and capabilities can your company do better than other companies in a week, month, or year?

Always—a feminine product brand produced by P&G—leverages the marketing powerhouse of the consumer packaged goods multi-national to create new conversations in cause marketing. A recent Always commercial demonstrated and confronted the stigmatic phrase of acting “like a girl.” The video went viral—it racked up 31 million views in a week—and while it’s unclear exactly how many people the commercial has impacted (or will impact), it’s at least gotten people thinking about a phrase many forget has profound ripple effects. Always is starting an important conversation that matters.

4. Diagnose: What are the obstacles that keep your company from being able to achieve your vision?

Google recently launched a $50 million initiative to teach young girls how to code. Their new website, Made With Code (which launched a few weeks ago), is the result of long-term research by Google to determine why girls are opting out of learning to code.

Finding that most girls decide long before college whether or not they’ll want to learn to code, Made With Code aims to help impact that decision early on, and ultimately bring more women into the tech workforce. Once again, this project leverages many of Google’s strengths and could potentially have a global impact in the next five, ten, and twenty years. It could also funnel back to Google in increasing their potential workforce.

5. Enroll Allies: Who are the primary and secondary stakeholders in this initiative? Who do you need buy-in from? How will you keep momentum going, and what support systems do you have in place for when the inevitable hiccups arise? 

Whole Foods encourages its employees to “upcycle” old materials, repurposing them into new value. In so doing, the company enrolls stakeholders across store departments and regions to participate in its sustainability initiatives. This helps the company continue to reduce waste, promote local relationships, and attract diverse allies that will propel its corporate responsibility programs.

6. Make the Leap: What’s the immediate next step you can take to move onto the pathway towards realizing your vision? What’s a follow-up action assuming success and failure?

Always realized the influence its advertising could have and used that to further a positive cause. Google’s Made With Code is based heavily off of Google’s core competencies. And Starbucks, having already taken great strides in providing a positive employee experience, pushed above and beyond with its employee education program. All great immediate steps towards realizing several very different visions.

Every organization has the ability to link their current workstream to a bold, long-term view.  What’s really exciting is that corporate social responsibility can go hand-in-hand with positive business impact, whether you’re a feminine pads company or Starbucks.


photo credit: PG.NETO via photopin cc

3 Things the World Cup Can Teach Us About Business Strategy

Posted July 22, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Strategy
fifa world cup

This post was written by Diana Cheng, a Senior Strategist here at Jump. You can get in touch with her by commenting on this post.

Over the last few weeks, I was one of over 26 million Americans who tuned in to watch the 2014 World Cup. I love watching real football—soccer—and grew up watching the games with my dad.

Despite the notion that “nobody in the U.S. cares about soccer,” World Cup viewership in the United States has been on the rise in every World Cup since 2006. And why not? There are so many reasons to watch and love what I consider to be the world’s greatest sporting event—the drama, the loyal fans, the national pride at stake, the fun in watching, and the talent on the fields. But most of all, the World Cup is about strategy. It’s not just about brute strength or speed; the key to winning is being able to make strategic decisions before, during, and after each game.

That’s not unlike business strategy. There are lessons to be learned from the pitch that can apply to any organization looking to win in its arena:


1. It’s a team effort—not about individual stars.

Germany is a great team, and that’s why they won. While none of their players rank higher individually in skills or in fame than players like Lionel Messi of Argentina or Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (ranked numbers 1 and 2 in the world in 2013, respectively), the collective strength of their team far outweighs that of a single lone star amongst mediocre teammates. Selfishness loses games, and the best teams are those that are strong, collaborative, and selfless.

The same is true for leading any team through innovation, a highly collaborative field. In an environment full of incredibly smart, talented, and highly opinionated people, the most successful teams are those who bring their best to every group interaction, and know when to check their egos or pass to others. This requires a delicate balance of knowing when it makes sense to have a heated debate to push great ideas forward, and when it’s time to take charge and make a decision.

2. A great defense saves you from unnecessary mistakes, but won’t lead you to victory in the end.

Many of the hero stories from this year’s World Cup came on the defensive side. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s 16 saves vs. Belgium were enough to break a World Cup record, but not enough to propel the team to victory. Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico, also a goalkeeper, propelled himself into the spotlight with a handful of remarkable saves throughout Mexico’s games. These stories are fun, and the games were entertaining, but these teams didn’t win—they were knocked out.

Good defense may provide you with a solid foundation and sustain you over time, but in the end, it doesn’t help you score points when it counts. You can’t win in your field unless you’re willing to take calculated risks—to make that run down the field and kick that ball towards the back of the net. At times, the less sexy move—defense—is a smart one. But if you want to be a pioneer, you need to let go of that tight control and take risks.

3. It’s essential not to forget your big “Why.”

Experts, commentators, and fans alike have all spent countless hours figuring out what went wrong with Brazil in their 1-7 dismantling vs. Germany (and their subsequent hard-to-watch loss to the Dutch in the third place game). As I see it, after Neymar’s injury, the team was so preoccupied with the loss of their star defensive player that they overlooked the fact that they also lost their usual captain, who was responsible for organizing the team on the field.

Once they lost order and lost their cohesive team strategy, they didn’t stand a chance. It was as though they had forgotten the reason they were out there on the field—to play great football, and to win the World Cup once again. They were so busy mourning the loss of Neymar that they forgot to play just as normal, and showcase their full potential as 5-time champions.

In business, it can be easy to get so down in the weeds as you’re working through a problem that you forget to step back and ask yourself what’s the real problem you’re trying to solve. You may also be so eager to simply do something, or get caught up in the momentum, that you forget to check whether you were headed in the right direction (there were five own goals this World Cup). Avoid that trap by staying closely in tune with your overall strategy, and intentionally stepping back every once in a while to look at the bigger picture. Big picture thinking won’t cure all evils, but it can prevent you from succumbing to pitfalls that could make even great organizations fail.

Soccer won’t give us all the answers, but as it turns out, the pitch is a decent place to look for lessons about business strategy. One thing no strategy has been able to help me with? Getting over my World Cup withdrawal. Another four years to go...


photo credit: jikatu via photopin cc

Geographic Expansion Isn’t About Cutting and Pasting

Posted July 17, 2014 by Editor
Categories: Strategy
plane flying overhead

This post was written by Udaya Patnaik, Co-Founder of Jump. You can find him on Twitter @UdayaJump, or get in touch with him by commenting on this post.

Tesco, a supermarket chain and the largest retailer in the UK (second in the world only to Walmart), is wildly successful in Britain. But despite all of that success abroad, the retailer has been unable to find success in the US, losing $2B in a very costly experiment and closing the doors of its Fresh & Easy stores last year after years of research and planning.

Despite conducting lots of research in California prior to launching Fresh & Easy, Tesco failed to create an experience that acknowledged the differences between UK and US shoppers. The stores were smaller, they used shrink-wrap food packaging, they offered more single-serving, ready-meals and they included a good selection of British products like marmite.

While that may resonate with British expats, US shoppers are used to browsing and buying their groceries in expansive club stores and supermarkets, buying prepared foods at deli-counters, and don’t even know what marmite is! In many ways, Tesco just reapplied too many of the products, merchandising and sales experiences that worked for them in their home market.

Corporations too often think geographic scaling means cutting and pasting: replicating the model that worked for them from one place to another. Of course, the old adage is true that what works in Paris might not play in Peoria. But it’s also hard to achieve economies of scale and leverage prior investments if every location requires completely different solutions. So how does one diversify its geographic footprint viably?

At Jump, we’ve found five different approaches that companies can use to successfully enter new locations. Beyond just guidance for retailers, these approaches are used across product and service sectors as varied as media, transportation, food and financial services. Depending on the company’s strategic intent, it might use one or more of these when trying to expand into other locations:

Ultra Custom: An ultra custom approach results in tailored experiences that emphasize the local flair in each market. This requires detailed knowledge of what exactly that local flair is, but leaves you with a custom solution that doesn’t feel like part of a larger chain. The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs has a 1950s vibe; the Ace in NYC has a speakeasy feel.

Flex Room: A flex room approach makes tweaks to standard offerings to account for local needs, leaving you with a unified brand but enough local customization to find success. Menus at McDonald’s in India don’t have beef sandwiches—instead, they have other meats and veggie cutlets that still create a similar feel.

Contributed Platform: A contributed platform creates a generic offering that local users can add to and make their own. This strategy is less interesting than some of the more custom solutions, but is immensely scalable by the very nature of how it’s designed. Yelp provides the means for people to weigh in on local hits and misses globally.

Blueprint Starters: Blueprint starters replicate a base system across markets, but curate to local markets—a great strategy when executed correctly, though perhaps slightly limited in its application. Flavorpill finds the most interesting events and places in cities across the U.S. and curates them on individual (local) sites.

Carbon Copies: This approach creates one offering that targets a specific context across markets. Once you identify a clear context of use, it’s fairly straightforward to find new locations across the country or globe. Kinko’s originally set up its standard stores in college towns where students tapped into 24-hour copy services.

To find out which approach is best for you, ask yourself a few questions:

- How much of my current model (products, services, transaction model, shopping experience, etc.) is relevant to the needs of the new market?

- How much cachet does my umbrella brand bring to the new market?

- How much will it cost to customize my offering to perfectly resonate in the new market?

- How much development of the new market offering will we do ourselves vs. partners vs.  customers?

Geographical expansion can obviously be a very good way to drive growth, but only when executed correctly. And while it seems fast, cheap and easy to just cut and paste, the results can be slow, costly and very hard going. But with some strategic forethought and preparation, it’s possible to create an appropriately customized solution that wins in the long run.


photo credit: ben g via photopin cc

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