Business Transformation

New book shows how Movement Thinking™ helps Woke CEOs become Warrior CEOs.

Scott Goodson, Chief executive officer StrawberryFrog

Toothless purpose is giving it all a bad name isn’t it. All talk and no tangible action is the most pressing problem that business leaders face. The enormity of the actual challenges that we face as a planet, a civilization as a community requires a new kind of approach for business leaders.

Activate Brand Purpose shows readers what is wrong with purpose and lays out a pragmatic roadmap for how CEOs, CHROs, CMOs can galvanize the people who matter inside the company and out and tackle real issues and in the process transform and grow companies. According to a McKinsey study, while 82% of U.S. C-Suite leaders say purpose is important, only 42% say their company’s stated purpose has had a significant impact on their organization.

At the same time, employees, customers, communities and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding purpose driven companies/brands that activate purpose, especially coming out of COVID. CEOs are starting to realize how important this issue is. Just think about the SEC announcement  that they are launching an enforcement task force focused on climate change and ESGs and the Business Roundtable about-face declaring that the purpose of a corporation is to promote an economy that serves all Americans.

We understand the importance of finding your “why”. But once you do, now what? That is what this book is all about. There are many books out there about either the importance of purpose or how to define your higher purpose. But none focuses on the most challenging part of purpose: how to activate it inside and outside your company, and how to avoid its decay over time. Our book gets to the heart of how you can activate your purpose to change your employees and transform your company. It shows you proven ways to grow your business, your brand, and your market share. And it shows you how to measure and track purpose empirically.

Companies are good at defining their higher purpose, but terrible at activating it. Far too often purpose is relegated to a plaque above the CEO’s desk, and never goes any further. Or, worse, the “purpose” is transparently used as a marketing ploy, but never acted upon in any real way. In Activate Brand Purpose, Chip Walker and I expose flaws in the prevailing thinking around purpose, and provide a new, deeply researched foundation and approach helping business leaders boost their ability to drive positive change in their companies and the world. C-Suite leaders are facing a major problem today, one we’ve observed over and over:

A look at what’s inside:

The pandemic has proven to be a tipping point for many big companies when it comes to their culture and branding. No longer is turning a profit enough for most stakeholders. We interviewed some of the top CEOs in the US who have activated purpose. There are lessons for CEOs who wish to lead thriving companies coming out of COVID both in terms of driving innovation, transformation and company change but also dealing with real employee and customer issues created by the abrupt change caused by the crisis. For instance it looks at the  difference between ‘top down leadership’ (Do this because I tell you to do it) and ‘cross-company leadership’ (Let’s do this because we all want to do it – because it’s something that really matters to us). And it looks at issues relevant to CEOs coming out of COVID such as

how do you lead a company now, how do you generate trust, creativity, inspiration, how do you recruit top talent and bring them into a company that does not have offices? 

We interviewed leading chief human resources officers (CHROs) in the book. The challenges inside companies brought on by the pandemic, economic downturn, and racial injustice have elevated the role of the CHRO and other HR leaders to help CEOs manage employees during the crisis and into the future. With this perfect storm of cultural upheaval, employee stress, business challenge, and opportunity, you could call this the “CHRO moment.” But more the book presents concrete evidence that you can’t transform a company with a top down mandate any more, but you can change hearts and minds and habits with a Movement Inside the organization. The book also shows HR leaders how to deal with employee well-being in a full-spectrum way, and we also help leaders seeking to change their organizations to become more innovative.

We looked at the most effective ways to merge companies using a framework that has been tested in the most recent large scale mergers.

We spoke with financial innovators and Chief Financial Officers about how activating purpose with Movement Thinking can lead to new and more innovative equity ideas.

And we looked at how CMOs can use Movement Thinking to devise a full funnel marketing strategy that galvanizes consumers and customers to engage with the brand in ways traditional advertising or digital advertising cannot do. The business value of mass engagement by the culture includes earned media (on top of paid media) and greater penetration, conversion and loyalty through word of mouth.  Net, they help build share. Moreover the Movement framework provides for a content strategy that 1. creates brand reputation. 2 Mega-trends/Innovation-led content that demonstrates how the brand is developing wow products/services that address real consumer pain points. And 3 Content that zooms into specific product features that reinforce the reasons to believe in the movement plus tangible incentives to click to buy… to subscribe… to learn more.

The book introduces tools for business leaders such as the Purpose Power Index, the world’s first empirical measure of Purpose Brands. The Purpose Gap, which essentially is the distance over time and down through the organization between a Purpose being announced and its continued understanding and use at the ‘bottom’ of the organization 18 months later. So the test of a Purpose is not whether it is met rapturously when it is unveiled by the leadership team, but whether it is still being used by front line staff 18 months (or 3 years later). The gap between those two events and levels of people is The Purpose Gap.

Activate Brand Purpose is rigorously researched, supported by many years of work with companies around the world, and gives leaders seeking to activate purpose a clear path forward. Our deep understanding of how purpose is activated, combined with fascinating in-depth stories of companies that have successfully achieved this, provide solid insight into what purpose can do.

In the book we examine the many barriers to effectively activating purpose and the many ways it can go wrong. For instance, poor purpose definition, organizational naysayers, and purpose washing are culprits we frequently encounter. We help you understand how to overcome these barriers and activate purpose through Movement Thinking, the antidote to a dormant purpose.

Movement Thinking and Movement Marketing are inspired by the principles of societal movements. Born of more than 20 years of experience, Movement Thinking has been proven in over 100 cases we achieved at our company StrawberryFrog–the world’s first Movement company, focused on activating purpose. We introduced the marketing world to Movement Thinking more than 20 years ago with the launch of the Smart Car for Mercedes and Swatch. It was a global movement to reinvent the urban environment. We evolved Movement Thinking into an approach for leaders to engage employees with the goal of changing the culture of an organization, as well as employee habits and behaviors, quickly.

The book looks at how to avoid purpose decay. We spend a chapter looking at Mahindra, one of the most powerful companies in India, and its purpose and the Rise Movement, to drive an innovation culture within the organization and among their global employees. This program has been going for over a decade. And during the height of the global pandemic, the book looks at how Northwell Health, one of the largest health services organizations in the United States, activated its purpose with a movement to engage both employees and people outside Northwell.

As the purpose economy gains ever greater momentum coming out of Covid, Activate Brand Purpose shows readers how to transform company/brand purpose into meaningful action by sparking a company-wide cultural movement. It explains how to put purpose at the core of your strategy and activate it to all your stakeholders. It instructs readers on how to galvanize employees inside the company, how to change mindsets and employee habits quickly, and how to activate purpose with consumers to grow sales and attract new customers. It even shows new ways to use purpose to change the way companies are valued.

Defining and activating a higher purpose has become one of the greatest sources of hope the business world has ever seen. As we look across the planet at the many issues challenging us all, the time for action is now.

Written by Scott Goodson. Have you read?
How to have a unified look when half your staff are working from home by Pamela Jabbour.
How FedEx Delivers Nimbleness by Peter A. High.
Are You Falling for the Myth of “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky.

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Scott Goodson
Scott Goodson is the founder and Chief executive officer of StrawberryFrog, which focuses on helping companies transform, merge, employee engagement as well as external marketing through Movement Thinking™. #ActivateBrandPurpose is his new book: How to Harness the Power of Movement Thinking to Transform Your Company." (2021) written with Chip Walker. For 25 years Scott has helped business leaders galvanize people and organizations around shared purpose via 'Movement Thinking' to achieve competitive advantage.

Books by Scott Goodson:
Activate Brand Purpose: How to Harness the Power of Movements to Transform Your Company (Kogan Page; 1st edition; March 30, 2021).
Uprising: How to Build a Brand--and Change the World--By Sparking Cultural Movements (McGraw-Hill Education; 1st edition; February 17, 2012).

Scott Goodson is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.