Great thoughts are the beginning of every great organization and then must be followed by feelings and actions.
For decades, IBM’s theme was one word: Think
IBM’s first great CEO, Thomas Watson, Sr., planted the seed by saying, “Thought has been the father of every advance since time began.”
My brothers were rock star salesmen for IBM in its glory years - the 60s and 70s - and I saw this IBM theme emblazoned on everything from their desks to the awards they received.
Watson taught himself, his son (who later succeeded him and was in charge when my brothers worked there) and every worker at IBM to “think”.
Today, with talk so cheap and plentiful, I believe that thinking is an undervalued commodity.
With The Business of Good, thinking is at the forefront of the work we do with every partner we help. We just add one word: Think Differently.
Rarely do we bring new thoughts to our partners. Most have experienced high degrees of success long before we came on the scene. More normally we just help them look at what they already know and think about it a little differently.
I was reminded of that last week at a meeting of Cleveland Social Venture Partners (CSVP), the local arm of a brilliant international concept that we’ve been part of for several years. (Learn more at www.clevelandsvp.org.) The concept is to review dozens of deserving local charities each year, then pick one that you can partner with for three years giving not only money, but more importantly time to build their capacity to serve.
The members and I are looking at ways to build more revenue for CSVP and this paradoxical thought occurred to me:
CSVP has been doing engaged philanthropy for almost ten years – helping non-profits build their capacity – and yet our own capacity is declining.
And so I asked the members gathered, “What’s the specific track record of the organizations we’ve served – before and after?” The response was fun to hear. All 10 of the organizations CSVP has served have built their capacity significantly.
So why can’t we do it for ourselves?
I’m guessing it’s because we think too much about what to do for our partners and not enough about building our own capacity.
CSVP still operates under the original model. Their only current revenue source is the $5,000 each of us gives annually along with our time and talent. That model grew us to this level but it may not get us to the next level.
Maybe Watson would tell us that we now just need to think about ourselves in new ways.
And so we’ve begun to explore putting on a social business event next year, starting an annual fund (allow folks to give less than $5,000) and even training other foundations, corporations and individuals how to invest and leverage partnerships such as we do.
Start an event; start a learning center; maybe consult. That makes it seem that all we need to do to succeed is to use more effectively what we already know!
One more thought. Thinking differently about your organization or business is the first step. There are two more steps to success: feeling and doing.
A business psychologist told our peer group years ago that we must balance thoughts with feelings and actions. In fact, she said, the very definition of insanity is to think, think, think without feeling or acting. Same of course goes for “feel, feel, feel” or “act, act, act” without the other steps. I remember her simple and sound advice:
“Balance your thoughts with feelings; balance your feelings with actions; balance your actions then again with thoughts.”
A great organization, indeed a great life, contains all three of these things in their proper order and use.
But first, we must think.