We marvel at change – whether storm clouds moving across a ridge or the impact of a new device on cultural norms—but driving meaningful change through an organization can challenge even the most deft leaders.
“We don’t hire people to make brownies. We make brownies to hire people. As businesspeople, that means that we are people doing business, but the people part does have to come first.”
Jonathan J. Halperin quoted in beyond (June 21, 2017)
Five years ago today, as the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown were still emerging, The New York Times published my letter observing that “trust comes not from repeated and paternalistic proclamations of success, but rather from the humble admission of mistakes followed by demonstrable changes in behavior and attitude.”
Across the American presidential campaign landscape, change might look like a neo-fascist with a toupee, a scrappy septuagenarian democratic socialist, or the familiar face of a woman who might become our first female president. Quite a spectacle we present to the world.
Chipotle lost about one-third of its pork supply early in 2015 and signs popped-up in roughly 500 restaurants announcing that “carnitas” was unavailable. From the corporate HQ, PR Director Chris Arnold positioned his company’s handling of this supply shortfall as evidence that it stands behind its brand that promises “food with integrity.” Indeed, Chipotle did the right thing in deciding to curtail purchases from a supplier that violated its animal welfare pledges and in refusing to substitute substandard product to make up for that shortfall. But...
The words we use reflect the extent to which our thinking is clear or muddled. Speaker after speaker at The New York Times conference at Stone Barns on Food for Tomorrow spoke to the issue of words and meaning.
From earthquakes and mudslides in Chile, Japan and California; from droughts across America’s fruit and vegetable heartland; to flooding in Pakistan and creeping lava in Hawaii as well as a smoking volcano in Iceland; from killings in Ferguson, Missouri, to the Russian invasion of Ukraine; from the collapse of the state in Libya and the rise of the Islamic State across the Middle East; from Gaza to the Golan Heights one could be forgiven for feeling that things are coming unstuck.
I am comforted by the awareness that changes we dismiss as inconceivable are often viewed by historians as having been inevitable. A Happy New Year might thus include news of the following momentous changes.
We needed an outside perspective on working with leading corporations and turned to Jonathan to assess our approach, refine our strategy, facilitate internal roll-out and help us execute. He helped us to think big, see new opportunities, reshape our communications and engage internal stakeholders. His counsel and ongoing support has been constructively provocative. Jonathan’s strategic thinking is keen and his facilitation skills are superior; he drills quickly to the underlying issues with a deft combination of determination and diplomacy.