Company as Platform
As I was preparing for a recent presentation on trends in the corporate world, I came across this quote from Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. The article was about how he showed up in Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens with rapper Common to nudge people to get out and vote. Schultz made the point that the only way we can get over the dysfunction in American government today is if we all go out and vote in this upcoming election. I have to agree with him that people must take advantage of their stake in government and make their opinions known.
What struck me in the article, however, was this simple statement: “We really think of Starbucks as a platform.” He could not be more right. We’ve heard a lot of talk this past year about purpose-driven companies but I think that Schultz’s vision of taking a company and turning it into a foundation to advance a company’s business and solve world problems at the same time. This also reminds me of what CVS has done with their purpose-driven health focus centered on banning cigarettes to be sold in their stores which I just read about. Norman de Greve, chief marketing officer recently said, “But I contend it’s impossible to be a purpose-driven brand unless you are a purpose driven-company — ours is helping people on their path to better health.” Their purpose-driven drive has increased their reputation exponentially.
We are also seeing greater CEO activism in the past year or so…CEOs who are speaking up on today’s most intractable problems but it has even more resonance when you think about taking a company with all its resources, influence and collective will power to solve problems that government is simply unable to do. The concept is simple but the impact great.