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On Rosabeth Moss Kanter's "How Great Companies Think Differently"

by Employee ‎12-02-2011 04:35 PM - edited ‎12-02-2011 04:43 PM

kathy_brown_133x175.jpgI couldn't let the month pass without pointing out a terrific article in the November issue of the Harvard Business Review by Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter. In "How Great Companies Think Differently," she argues that great companies look beyond short-term profits toward the creation of long-term, enduring social good. This long-term view in turn guides these companies as they improve, innovate, and generate more value for shareholders. It's the way great companies adapt and "think their way to success."


Last year, we asked Dr. Kanter to speak to our senior leadership team. She spoke on how purpose-driven leadership can constantly renew and unify organizations, and she conducted a "master class" on fostering innovation, nurturing teamwork and running a values-based corporation. It was a perfect fit.


Our 130+ year history as a communications provider has naturally given us a long-term perspective and a unique place in the fabric of American business and culture. And there's no doubt we're faced with uncertainty and change as we reinvent our networks to serve an increasingly mobile, data-centric and global market.


The key, as Dr. Kanter suggests, is to use "institutional logic" — the framework of values that define a great company and give it purpose — to keep us on track to build the kind of social value that we have in the past. As telephones made life better for previous generations and enabled businesses to grow and contribute to society, so must our new networks create broad social value and enable growth.


Our FiOS fiber-optic network and our 4G mobile data networks are the technical assets upon which we build. And you'll soon hear more of how we use these assets to create social value in areas such as heath care and energy management. But we've got a solid foundation of purpose and value, and we're determined to use that as a guide to our future.


I've argued elsewhere that Americans are calling for a new contract with business, one that requires business leaders with an eye for shared social value rather than narrow profit-taking. Businesses ignore that call at their own peril. But crossing that bridge from bottom-line thinking to a different, wider view of the purpose of one's business can be a difficult choice.


Dr. Kanter ends her HBR article with an exhortation for business leaders to act even in the face of skepticism and uncertainty. We're on way, with a vision of our role as a vital contributor to society and the world.

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About the Authors

Rose Kirk

V.P. of Global Corporate Citizenship and President of the Verizon Foundation

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Rose leads Verizon's global corporate responsibility initiatives and philanthropic strategy, which focuses on applying Verizon's technology to improve education, healthcare and energy management.

James Gowen

Chief Sustainability Officer/
V.P. of Services Operations

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James oversees Verizon’s supply chain, vehicle fleet, investment recovery, purchasing and materials management and sustainability initiatives.

Jack McArtney

Director of Corporate and Community Responsibility

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Jack promotes digital wellness and online safety. He works with parents, educators, service providers, application developers and industry leaders to foster responsible use of Verizon's mobile and broadband networks.

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