“The 20th Century wasn’t all that long ago, but I don’t think we’d have had a conversation about brand back then like we did this morning. This idea of a nexus of values recognizes the accentuated role Attenzi plays in the big scheme of things. We have to be so much more connected to the way our world thinks and feels in order to remain relevant let alone lend relevance.
“And this opportunity to be transparent and this instinctive need to be authentic means we can’t say one thing and do another. We can’t hide from our responsibilities, and we must have a tidy house. If we want to be perceived to be a great company, a great employer, a great citizen and a great custodian of our planet, then we have no choice other than to be just that; great!
“If we want to be seen as such, we have to be as much. Reality is perception.
“Now it strikes me that some hardcore capitalists might reject some of this as too liberal, as too distanced from the primary and they might argue sole objective of the body corporate – to create wealth for its shareholders. However, to me, seeking to make a direct connection between every single activity and a fiscal measure of shareholder wealth creation is woefully simplistic to the point of dogmatic fancy. We must consign such simple mechanistic thinking to the past as we begin to acknowledge and confront the complexity of the world around us.
“And what’s more, I see no such tension. The shareholders’ long-term interests are best served by our thinking here. We are just recognizing that the changes around us demand we change the way we go about business, and possibly change what it actually means to be in business.
“We’re in service to our customers, to ourselves, to shareholders, to all stakeholders – each stakeholder benefits in the long-term when other stakeholders work with rather than against it.
“So rather than focusing on the short-term transaction – ‘make stuff, sell it, job done’ – we must focus on the lifelong relationship by thinking about everything we do in terms of service.
“Technologically, we’ve arrived at a new epoch. This decade is a so-called perfect storm, in the positive sense. We no longer have to rely on old rules of thumb. We no longer need to trade off the short-term and long-term so bluntly. We can attempt to navigate complexity, to try and plot the optimal course through all these interacting elements.
“It can never be an easy journey, but the more sensitized we are to the zeitgeist, to our customers and ourselves and all stakeholders, the greater our facility to respond appropriately, and to lead appropriately.
“Perhaps Saket would put it like this: ‘Perfection is not just about control. It is also about letting go’, Black Swan, 2010.”
I saw Saket smile.
“We have to open ourselves out to the world, and let the world in. Attenzi is no longer defined by its payroll or by its shareholders but by our participation in a wider network.
“And these new technologies enable us to participate effectively and efficiently. We don’t have media for media’s sake – we have it to communicate. And we don’t communicate for communication’s sake – but to influence and be influenced productively.
“And we’ve learned that there’s potentially influence in everything we do, and sometimes in those things we don’t do.