Fending Off the Next Social Media Blitz

Fending Off the Next Social Media Blitz

Hard social media age realities mean companies had better anchor in their truest core values—or incur the wrath of stakeholders. In Chief Executive, Ryan Baum provides insight into how you can identify your purpose and values and use them as a bulwark against controversy.

Recent white-hot controversies have made it clear that companies can’t simply explain their way out of a values conflict with their own customers and employees. That means they need to anchor their public identity in their core beliefs and principles for consistency and authenticity.

No organization that truly knows itself and its stakeholders needs to waver in the face of controversy. Responses become automatic.

But since not every company can easily identify its authentic principles or its most sacred core values, there’s work to be done. The best place for a company’s senior management team to start is with a long look in the mirror. That can allow you to uncover your company’s purpose as something that’s deeply authentic to your people’s beliefs.

Articulate and activate your purpose

There’s a reason why any specific set of human beings all end up at the same company. It may not be articulated or understood explicitly, but it’s there. Sure, it could be because you offer the best pay and benefits, but in many cases it’s bigger than that—especially if someone has been at the company for more than five years.

Oftentimes that reason is some sort of shared belief about how the world should work. Look inward to your people. Do the cultural archeology work to uncover what that reason is. Then use it as a guiding light to determine what the team authentically cares about. That can be a filter in deciding what issues are actually right to take a stand on. Uncover it and state it!

Once you articulate a purpose, it’s only useful if you can start building it into the decision making processes at the company. There are rigorous ways to do that, but one simple action can be to start ending all of your meetings by asking the question, how does what we decided here today resonate, violate or not apply to our articulated purpose?

Then only act on the things that resonate. It’s relatively easy to avoid action on things that violate your purpose. But you also need to not take action on things that don’t apply.

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For example, if you’re all about financial equity and access, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to suddenly step into issues of environmental sustainability. You can support environmental action personally if you personally care about that, but it isn’t authentic to what the organization stands for, it’s probably a distraction from the clarity and consistency of what the company is trying to do in the world.

Read the full article on Chief Executive.

Ryan Baum


Ryan is a partner and advisor to Fortune 500 executives, setting the course for large-scale transformation and aggressive growth. He helped a major airline clarify and roll out a new corporate strategy, partnered with an automotive company to recapture the Millennial market, and helped a technology giant break into the healthcare industry.