From the Desk of the President

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

According to the Google executive and best-selling author, Tim Sanders, Love is the Killer App that moves the modern business, and separates true winners from followers. It is that professional love defined as the “selfless promotion of the growth of the other” which builds loyalty, which translates directly into recurring revenues. This “Killer App” predicts sound financial results quarter after quarter, year after year. Sanders argues that in today’s business, it’s not barracudas or sharks of past decades, but smart, passionate and knowledge-sharing “love-cats” that are winning customers, retaining best talents and developing attractive future products.

So, what’s love got to do with it? “It” is defined as sustainable and socially responsible sourcing, or 3s. The most socially responsible action any business leader can implement — according to Tim Sanders and companies like Google, Costco, Starbucks or Apple — is to adopt Love, this “Killer App,” to become an integral part of standard business practices. In plain business language it translates to relentless commitment to train and empower employees; because it is smart business when those educated and empowered employees return a quantum leap of energy and commitment to satisfy clients. It means treating suppliers as partners with respect and honesty. As Starbucks demonstrates in its “Preferred Supplier Program”, it is smart business to offer help and coaching to a partner when needed, and fair terms of contract, which allow a partner to improve and grow with the company. It means empowering local communities by extending educational programs beyond company boundaries, by respecting local culture, customs and environment even when they seem to get in the way of the business goals. It is simply smart business, as Patagonia demonstrates quarter after quarter.

If any of the left-brain, fact driven, number-focused serious business executives are still reading this blog, kudos to you for exercising your patience and your open-minded attitude. Love Is the Killer App is about numbers and final results after all. For both left and right brainers, here are a few hard scientific facts that I submit today to dispute Milton Freedman’s emotionless “labor-arbitrage” foundation of today’s global sourcing.

According to the latest research in neurology and brain science (e.g. works of Antonio Damasio, USC College of Brain and Creativity Institute)

– humans (read: consumers, customers, employees) are far less influenced by facts than even the Madison Avenue Mad Man is willing to admit;

– loyalty (read: the recurring revenues, lower cost of sales, talent war) is rooted in emotions, not reason;

– ethics, or lack of such (read: so what if it’s “fishy”– it’s still legal) plays an increasingly important role in purchasing decisions and translates directly into the value of the brand and market capitalization.

Global sourcing, rooted in the labor arbitrage rules of the past decades, is still predominantly a territory of barracudas and sharks. Smart and passionate “3s love cats” are still few and far between. Adopting sustainable and socially responsible sourcing practices – or 3s practices – puts special demands on those who control the territory: corporate strategists, buyers and thought leaders. As they recognize symptoms of a new age and new rules in global sourcing, they need to be more vocal in promoting 3s-based models. Using Tim Sanders’ vocabulary, I ask the “love cats”: leave your comfort zone of corporate silo and share your successes with the rest of the pack, including your existing and potential supply chain partners. Publicize your best practices for sustainable and socially responsible sourcing.

The Global Sourcing Council (GSC) recognizes the need to provide the platform to share best practices and provide visibility to those real, frequently local, initiatives that bridge the gap between big corporate strategies and local implementation of the “Killer App.” Offering recognition to 3s projects is the goal of the 3S Awards Program: Awards in Sustainable and Socially Responsible Sourcing.

In the true spirit of sharing, “love cats”, we encourage you to promote your suppliers/partners who deliver outstanding results to you – the client, while growing local communities and empowering their employees.

– encourage an entity (an informal group or an organization) to share their experiences and achievements using 3s strategies;

– submit the application for the 3s Award as the example of the “Killer App,” others can learn from it; and you get visibility, recognition and, perhaps, an award.