CCO Viewpoint: What Was New is New Again
By, Drew Hagen, Co-Founder & Chief Culture Officer
In the news last week, wedged between stories on the latest political gaffes, alligators climbing fences in Florida (oh, Florida) and stock market swings, there was a story about a coalition of 181 CEOs—including leaders of companies such as Apple, Pepsi, and JP Morgan Chase—surprisingly stating that optimizing return to shareholders as the single guiding principle of business is perhaps an outdated concept. From the New York Times:
Breaking with decades of long-held corporate orthodoxy, the Business Roundtable issued a statement on “the purpose of a corporation,” arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.
We agree. In fact, this has been our approach at InVision since its inception 27 years ago.
As young men working for one of the publicly-held “big agencies” and experiencing first-hand this shareholder-first paradigm of contemporary business, my then-colleague, now long-time business partner Rod Mickels and I felt that there might be a better way—at least one that better aligned with the values we shared.
Thus InVision was born in 1991 with a commitment by Rod and me to be “good people” both in life AND in business; that we would build an agency in which long-term client relationships take precedence over short-term transactional opportunities, a company where employees are treated like family and suppliers are viewed as valued partners in our success.
We’re proud to say that it worked then, and it works now.
Through a focus on healthy, long-term success rather than rolling 3-month metrics, we managed to build a solid foundation on which we’ve grown both with and for our client partners. Two of our client partners, Genentech and Oracle, have been with us from the very beginning, and several others extend beyond 15 and 20 years – a rarity in this business!
By establishing and nurturing a culture that respects and rewards employees, we’ve been able to consistently attract and retain top talent—truly the best in the business.* Retention of top talent enables our client partners to develop relationships not just with InVision the company, but with InVision the people**. Many InVisionites work on a given client’s business program after program, year after year, bringing invaluable accumulated experience that amplifies the power of the work and drives efficiencies at every turn.
Likewise, our suppliers are not vendors, they’re partners with whom we have long-standing relationships and a shared commitment to excellence. Because of the volume of work that flows through InVision and the strength of the relationships we’ve established and nurtured over years, we’re able to bring our client partners the highest quality of work AND efficiencies of scale that enable budgets to both work harder and go further.
Be Great, Do Good, Have Fun. This is our mantra at InVision—words we live by each and every day. While we applaud the Business Roundtable’s statement, we also hope that they truly mean what they say and take real action. If they do, I strongly believe they’ll see what we have: that integrity, transparency, and commitment to ‘good’ never go out of style.
Business Roundtable: Welcome to the party. We’re glad you’re here.
*Across our 130 employees, nearly half (48%) have been at InVision 5 years or more, 30% 10 years or more.
**Our people have been invited to many client’s weddings…and vice versa!