It seems as though the only constant these days when it comes to business, the workplace, or how companies can grow well is that everything is changing. Today's interviewee, Josh Allan Dystra, knows this all too well. An author, consultant, and speaker, Dystra knows what it takes for businesses to succeed today, especially if they also want to have a positive impact on their communities, their customers, and their employees. His company, Strengths Doctors, helps organizations navigate through a rapidly changing world. We had a chance to talk to him about culture, giving back, and what is big dream for the world is.
CPC: You do a lot of work with companies surrounding their culture. What trends are you noticing? Dykstra: In the general marketplace we are sensing a strong movement towards social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. We believe these changes are reflections of a shift that runs much deeper than CSR or some kind of "green" company policy, however. In our view, they reflect a mentality evolution which is pushing us to create better kinds of businesses - not just to create more junk or even more profit, but to actually improve the world in some meaningful way.
In terms of specific company policy changes, we are noticing a growing desire to create good culture within an organization. For a long time, leaders have felt like victims of culture - that it was simply something foisted upon us, and we were either lucky or unlucky - but now, particularly with success stories like Zappos (who owe their entire brand differentiation strategy to a wonderful work environment), leaders are beginning to understand that they can in fact grow a culture, much like we can cultivate an ecosystem.
CPC: Are companies beginning (or continuing to) care for their people or the planet? Dykstra: Oh yes, the care is out there. What we're doing now is just not nearly enough, and not anywhere close to providing the kind of systemic, institutional adjustments that need to (and will) happen.
Here's another angle on this: we believe that at this moment and in the near future, authentic care for people and the planet will be a competitive advantage for companies who can genuinely weave it into their brand. We already see this happening with companies like Seventh Generation or TOMS or Threadless. But very soon, organizations will not have this choice - the options will likely be to "get on the shared value bandwagon" or watch your company die.
CPC: Your company offers a 1-for-1 model, much like TOMS Shoes. How does this work for you and why did you decide to do it? Dykstra: Giving back is something that my partners and I care deeply about, but with a service-based business it's not quite as simple as 1-for-1, as each client is different. So we decided to modify the offering a bit. When clients engage our services, we provide a free session around "How To Discover Your Strongest Life" to a school or non-profit of their choice. We find this is a perfect way to bring life-changing ideas to organizations and groups that may not be able to afford what we do outright, and it also spreads goodwill on behalf of the client. It's a win all around.
CPC: You have a book coming out soon. Can you tell us more about that? Dykstra: My book is called Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing An Organization That Doesn't Suck and it will be available in June. It is essentially my business manifesto - it describes how business is evolving and how we should respond to these changes. I call it a "why-to" book, as opposed to a "how-to" book, because its primary purpose is to make a strong case for WHY the first step towards creating more meaningful work is to change the way we think about it.
CPC: What do you think will be one of the biggest trends we'll soon see in the workplace? Dykstra: We're going to see a lot more fragmentation before we start to really see coalescence. For example: the utter market decimation that happened to the music industry, and is now happening in publishing, is going to go after all media forms next, and then probably education and then government. This is more than a digital revolution; it's a complete work revolution.
Most of our current institutions won't be able to survive the transition, because they have such a vested interest in the past and not the future. (This isn't to say they couldn't change, but that many will likely choose not to, much like the record labels.) This continuing fragmentation is going to get worse before it gets better, and it will feel very chaotic to people who keep expecting things to "return to normal."
Like most things, though, this can be a disaster or an opportunity, depending on our perspective. Wise people will recognize that there is great possibility hiding inside this crisis, and if we can learn to differentiate ourselves as individuals in the crowded and confusing market, we can thrive.
Also, it will be crucial that we find ways to protect our hope through this period, because it won't be easy. This is why my message is drenched in positivity - our words create the world, and I have no doubt that we can make a better future if we do it together.
CPC: What is your big dream for the world? Dykstra: My big dream is for everyone to have meaningful work. And I really do mean everyone. This may sound crazy or impossible, but it's actually neither. The crazy thing would be to continue down the path we're on: in jobs that we hate with people that annoy us doing stuff that ruins the planet. It's not impossible, either; technology will soon allow us to connect and leverage a level of collaboration like never before seen in all of human history. Meaningful work for all is something we can do - we just have to want it badly enough.