In her posts In the Future, All Brands Will Be B Corps, Ana Andjelic writes that "Crises are great truth-tellers. Brands are, in real-time, going through the crash course in social responsibility, and there are already winners and losers. Winners acknowledge what their customers are going through. Losers are pitching Mother’s Day sales and charging premium for medical masks on eBay. Crises tell the truth about a company. They expose organizational and operational strengths and weaknesses. They challenge leadership. They bring on business disruption, revenue drops, layoffs, and the pressure to reduce expenses and find new ways of making money.”
The COVID-19 crisis has exposed big businesses that pledged for gentler capitalism at the Business Roundtable. According to the NY Times, "key signatories are furloughing employees, paying dividends to shareholders and provoking complaints from workers that they aren’t adequately protected from danger."
We can look at businesses actions through the lens of effective mission implementation which is composed of dimensions and forms of consistency.
A mission is the raison d'être, the why of an company. Carlos Rey and Miquel Bastons describe mission through three dimensions: mission as formal statement, mission as dynamic practice and mission as motivation.
- Mission as formal statement: Defining and communicating the essence of the 'why', by a mission statement that formalises the scope of a company's activity in terms of the valye brought to its stakeholders.
- Mission as dynamic practice: The extent to which, or how, the company fulfills its formal mission in the areas of products or services; market and technology; processses and procedures; and objectives of endurance, growth and profitability.
- Mission as motivation: The extent to which the mission serves as a source of motivation for members of the company to fulfil their daily tasks and objectives with the goal of benefiting others' needs.
It is not enough to state the mission (formal statement), company also have to bring the mission through life (dynamic mission) and use it as motivation for members of the company (mission as motivation). To prevent mission development failure, these dimensions also have to fit together.
- Authenticity: A mission is authentic when what the company states as its mission is internalised by the members of the company, which depends on the alignment between the expressed intentions (formal mission) and the true intentions of individuals (motivational mission).
- Integrity: A mission has integrity when what truly motivates individuals (motivational mission) is aligned with what they actually do in their daily practice and with the company activities (dynamic mission).
- Coherence: The degree of alignment between what is done in practice (dynamic mission) and what the company declares as its mission (formal mission).
As an example, Marriott's mission statement is "To enhance the lives of our customers by creating and enabling unsurpassed vacation and leisure experience." Marriott's core values, which serves as driving behaviors in the fulfillment of the mission statement, are putting people first, pursuing excellence, embracing change, acting with integrity and serving the world. According to the NY Times, Marriott "has begun furloughing most of its American workers, jeopardizing their access to health care, even as the company paid out more than $160 million in quarterly dividends and pursued a raise for its chief executive."
Using the framework described by Carlos Rey and Miquel Bastons, we see that Marriott failed at being consistent on authenticity, integrity and coherence as employees are key in creating and enabling an unsurpassed vacation and leisure experience.