Interview with Carole Bond of GameShift and Victoria Hurth of the University of Plymouth
GameShift exists to encourage and enable wider and richer ways of exploring organisational life. We are always delighted when we find people doing great work that pushes corporate thinking to new places, particularly when the approaches have responsibility and purpose at their heart.
Victoria Hurth (at the University of Plymouth) and colleague Carole Bond have created a new way of working that places purpose at the heart of the marketing process – and marketing at the heart of organisational innovation and strategy.
We are delighted to host an initial interview about the work here. We will also be hosting some exploratory workshops to work with these ideas (more to follow soon – details about how to register your interest are at the end of the interview).
Great to talk to you both. What is the Evolved Value Framework?
The Evolved Value Framework (or EVF) is a tool for firms who are serious about becoming high-performing companies of the future. We think it’s a framework that really starts to fill a gap in the way organisations think about, and link, purpose to the core of everything they do.
Sounds good. It’s got purpose at its heart then…
There’s a solid amount of evidence that supports the view that successful organisations of the future will be both purposeful and sustainable.
Purpose means that a firm’s reason for being is a meaningful and transcendent goal, which serves the wellbeing of others and is aligned to its financial performance. When we talk about sustainable we mean a firm that is capable of delivering real value in the long term, ie maximised wellbeing for all within the constraints of nature.
OK, clear in theory. How do these ideas of a purpose-driven company hit the ground in practice?
Purpose has gained a huge amount of attention in recent years because it promises to lay the foundation of success in a range of ways – through, for example, addressing public trust, motivating employees, attracting the best talent and improving organisational agility.
Fundamentally it is the purposeful, sustainable organisations that will be able to continually maximise how relevant they are to people and how loyal people are to them in turn. This is because they are creating real value to their customers and ecosystem and are not just self-serving. When you put these factors together you start to get an attractive link between ‘theoretical ideals’ and core drivers of value and strategic success.
It’s because of this that addressing this question of putting purpose at the heart of the business is an appealing prospect for business owners and corporate strategists.
You start with marketing as the place to get this onto the agenda? Why so?
How can you make sure what you do is continually meeting the needs of your customers and other stakeholders? This is very core of what marketing is about. You can’t shift or sustain a business model without marketing – marketing is where the relationships between the organistion and all its stakeholders are defined and lived out. This is the very heartbeat of value. It is for this reason that the greatest management thinkers state that marketing is business. Peter Drucker said: “Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs”.
Without marketing that is totally aligned to its core purpose, a company cannot hope to be a successful purpose-driven organisation.
Most companies already take marketing seriously. What’s new here?
Well, most people confuse marketing with sales or otherwise misunderstand it. Traditional frames of marketing, where a business is not purpose-driven and is in “make-and-sell“ mode, operate with the intent of maximising profit in the short-term. They are about trying to convince people to buy something that the company has decided they can make profitably. Decision making tends to be narrow, linear and short sighted. Many companies are stuck in this model because of the pressure for short term profits, but customers are beginning to get very wise to it.
Even the more marketing (as opposed to sales) focused of today’s organisations, where a business tries to work out what a customer wants and then give it to them (what we call “sense-and-respond“), rarely put real wellbeing, their customers’ or other stakeholders’, at the heart of the firm’s purpose because short term profits are still the real driver. Most organisations still work on the assumptions that a self-serving business will win-out and that all humans are fundamentally self-interested.
Without the right marketing, purpose will be hugely stunted and marketing (or sales) will continue to cause many problems for society. Our framework is designed to deliver the right kind of marketing that is aligned with delivering purpose and wellbeing. It’s marketing that takes responsiblity for guiding customers to sustainable wellbeing and gets there through co-creating the innovation journey with them.
It’s a tool to adjust the way the organisation thinks about achieving its purpose in the market place – from the board level, through the polices, processes and systems that shape relationships with customers and stakeholders, to the way in which on-the-ground marketing tactics and campaigns are briefed and deployed.
It asks critical questions that drive change at all levels of an organisational system. Hence the EVF is about more than the marketing department. As Dave Packard of HP once said: “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people.”
So what does the EVF actually do?
The EVF summarises six core principles that if followed will make sure your marketing is aligned with purpose and sustainability. The principles are themselves aligned with emerging views of best practice marketing – and together they represent a powerful tool for business success.
The first is Real Needs First. Kotler says serving long term needs is good for business, and according to EY/HBR Deloitte research, purpose driven businesses are out performing non-purpose driven ones.
The second principle Relate and Co-create speaks to the development of deep, trusting, interactive relationships. Transactional marketing makes transactional customers; by comparison co-creation creates psychological ownership, loyalty and commitment.
Next is Leadership – marketers with purpose are motivated and innovative. They see themselves as guiding society, able to make a difference in the world.
The fourth principle is System Focus – according to Meadows we can’t make clever, sustainable solutions without a systems focus.
Marketing as the Compass ensures that customers and stakeholders are at the heart of your purpose and strategy.
And finally Metric Innovation –evolved marketing metrics will need to be developed to sit alongside organisation specific ones.
What maturity looks like for each of these principles is, of course, relative to a particular industry or time. It is the process of asking the tough questions about maturity and how to improve it that will lead to real organisational change.
So, at its heart, our framework helps implement a company’s purpose and amplify that outwards. It aims to ignite people’s passion for great marketing as the core of any successful organisation – putting it firmly at the centre of purpose driven, sustainable organisations.
Where does the EVF framework come from?
The current framework and six principles have been developed and refined over the last 4 years. Initiated as a result of original research by Victoria (at the University of Plymouth), drawing on research she undertook for Friends of the Earth (Hurth et al. 2015) and her published paper (Hurth & Whittlesea, 2017), the framework has been progressed and refined through exposure to marketers and businesses alongside Carole Bond, CIM Sustainability ambassador (and GameShift partner), Nick Davies of Neighbourly and a growing group of co-creators.
The journey is continuing with marketers testing the framework and principles in their own organisations and feeding back into the development process. The EVF aims to co-create a shared language and practical examples about what ‘good’ looks like as companies go on the journey to being the purposeful, sustainable companies of the future. This process, which is designed to remain open source, collective and iterative, will harness and amplify the innovation happening.
What can people do to take this further?
We’d love people to be involved in the next stage! If you are interested in being part of it you can read more here …
Hurth, V., Peck, J., Jackman, D. and Wensing, E., (2015) Reforming Marketing for Sustainability: A Framework for Evolved Marketing, Friends of the Earth. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/reforming-marketing-sustainability-full-report-76676.pdf
Hurth, V. and Whittlesea, E. (2017) Characterising Paradigms of Marketing for Sustainable Marketing Management, Social Business, 7(3-4):359-390. Pre-publication version is available here https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/10065
We’ve also got a linked in page here https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12107174/
Carole Bond is happy to talk to people interested in this framework. She can be contacted at email@example.com