We live in a highly competitive world that is driven increasingly by quick financial returns to pay the bills. This is the way of the world for businesses in the current economic climate. Many businesses preach collaboration and the desire to do good, but principles are challenged when reality bites quickly and the wages have to be paid.
The contributors to this issue of White Paper have all challenged the status quo, looked at things differently and made the commitment to fight the good fight in their daily work lives. For us at Gen.a it has been a privilege to have a conversation about the things that matter, and in many cases work alongside them in finding creative solutions to the challenges they face.
Lord Hastings speaks of hope – and the hope that he preaches is borne out of a current generation of business leaders who are achieving social and environmental change while still making profits. In speaking to him it is impossible to resist his passionate belief in stories about people thinking differently and being brave enough to change entrenched processes and behaviours. Suddenly entrepreneurship is synonymous with shared value and small businesses like ours can make a difference.
We can all find inspiration in seeing how people are working together to climb mountains that seemed insurmountable. It is indeed about imagining futures that translate the jargon of UN speak into practical actions that change lives. As we have travelled on this journey with Gen.a over the past few years we have been struck by the massive impact that business can have. When we work on a city or country-branding project, it is the business people who take responsibility for driving the reputation of their place. In working with corporate clients like Virgin globally, we see how their not-for-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, is not a bolt-on but threaded through the values and actions of each of the Group’s individual businesses. This leads to an irresistible brand proposition and more profitable businesses.
More than anything, we have seen how people are inspired and united around business ventures that create change in society. Our work in Zanzibar started with a branding assignment around cloves and spices, but we also found tourism and investment opportunity in the farming communities and entrepreneurial women’s groups who ultimately drive the business potential of this unique African archipelago. Through the process of design thinking, we have been able to bridge the business case with a distinctive brand proposition that has forged a pathway to social change.
Tim Mohin speaks a lot about ‘collaboration’ – people are re-inventing themselves and their businesses to find new ways of working together and new avenues to market. This is a testing proposition for all of us competing for business and yet, as he points out, will ultimately drive better outcomes and greater transparency through mutual accountability.
Much of this issue points to the future. Our view remains that the best way to create a better world, full of better businesses is to break down the barriers of ‘business as usual’. It is about designing something brilliant through creative thinking, generosity, a willingness and commitment to make the effort and constantly ask ‘what’s the best outcome?’
Managing Director & Founding Partner, Gen.a
Executive Creative Director & Founding Partner, Gen.a