Transforming company culture needs a movement inside, not a top down mandate

StrawberryFrog's Scott Goodson shares his views and insights on "movement marketing."

Movement strategy is designed to achieve behavioral change inside companies and to help C-Suite and HR leaders transform employee mindsets and actions.   

Since 1999, when we founded  StrawberryFrog, as the world’s first Movement Marketing and Design Company we’ve proven that the most significant change often comes through societal movements. We applied the principles of societal movements to mobilize team mates and associates.  

We started our company doing  Movements Outside with the launch of the Smart Car: the movement to reinvent the urban environment. Very quickly we realized that our creative Movement Marketing approach was effective at  institutionalizing new habits inside companies too. So we started an adjacent practice.

We began designing Movement Inside programs and Movement Strategy for organizations wishing to ignite behavioral change and quality decision making among employees. What we learned is that changing employee mindsets, behaviors and actions requires a Movement Inside, not a top down mandate…and certainly not your average boring email.

We follow a different path. We start by establishing a purpose for the organization but it doesn’t stop there. We can’t deliver just theory. Movement is about action. So through behavioral science, we look at all the reasons people might NOT change, treating their perspectives, attitudes, habits and competing commitments as reasonable responses in their own interest. We then create a Movement Strategy not traditional communications. The movement moves people and we address concerns, and crystallize it all with a soaring, heartfelt rallying cry with specific, step-by-step behavioral goals that don’t hide difficult choices, trade-offs and uncertainties, but addresses them head on. Change requires leadership. Leadership requires trust. Trust requires honesty and momentum. If we can do this, we will gain engagement. 

At StrawberryFrog, we’ve helped some of the world’s leading global companies—Emirates Airlines, Google, and Mahindra—change internal behavior and culture for better performance. We’ve learned a few valuable lessons.

Mahindra: A movement-minded case study
One leader who understands our approach well is Anand Mahindra, chairman of The Mahindra Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in Mumbai, with operations in over 100 countries around the globe. The group has a presence in aerospace, agribusiness, aftermarket, automotive, components, construction equipment, defense, energy, farm equipment, finance and insurance, industrial equipment, information technology, leisure and hospitality, logistics, real estate, retail, and two wheelers. It is considered to be one of the most reputable Indian industrial corporations. With over 40,000 employees. decision making had grown more convoluted and branches of the organization had become misaligned. Over the years, Mahindra’s had built in lots of procedures, and for many good reasons. But those procedures had also slowed it down.

Anand Mahindra sought to evolve Mahindra’s culture to be nimble, innovative, and customer-centered. He knew it required a journey to align and galvanize all employees. His leadership team began with a search for purpose together with StrawberryFrog. Over the course of several months, the Mahindra team led Ruzbeh Irani, worked with Scott Goodson and his StrawberryFrog team to learn about the needs of everyone, from factory workers to scientists, external partners, customers, and investors. Together they defined and distilled the purpose of the company, paring it down to three simple pillars that unpinned the "RISE" movement: Use your ingenuity. Accept no limits. To Drive positive change. The key strategy we used to align all the different interests and activate a solution which was good for all, was to focus on an idea on the rise in culture to buttress the RISE movement idea. And this is what everyone could get behind. The motivation was pride not dictates from the top down. And instead of plastering this new slogan on motivational posters, the leadership team began by quietly using it to start guiding their own decisions.

The goal was to demonstrate this idea in action, not talk about it. StrawberryFrog designed management training and role playing sessions over several month across all companies. Projects were selected across channels to highlight the pillar of RISE and Mahindra teams were rewarded for their alignment with the movement. Then we went global involving their largest offices in key markets like the USA and Chile, Europe and South Africa. A comprehensive internal RISE team and platform was developed to help Mahindra employees be proactive with their customer requests and innovate around problems in an agile way.

Scott Goodson is the founder and chairman of StrawberryFrog.

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