John Mackey is the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, Inc., based in Austin, Texas. He is widely credited with helping fuel the rise of organic and natural food in the United States—and reinventing the experience of grocery shopping. John opened a small health food store in Austin in 1978, which in 1980 merged with another local natural foods store to form the foundation on which Whole Foods Market was born. John has led Whole Foods Market since the beginning through mergers and internal development to create a FORTUNE 500 company with the goal of becoming a $12 billion company by 2010. His business philosophy is to act with care and responsibility toward all of the various stakeholder groups of the Company and to operate Whole Foods Market with social and environmental responsibility. Mackey was named 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and has been honored by top-tier publications for his business sense and philanthropic values.
American society appears to be undergoing a crisis in trust. Most of the major organizations that we depend upon, including governments of all types, corporations, our health care system, our financial institutions, and our schools all seem to be failing us. Indeed, I do not believe it is an exaggeration to claim that our society is actually undergoing a disintegration process whereby the fundamental premises and values supporting our institutions are all being called into question. While such disintegration is of course very painful to experience, it is also a tremendous opportunity for genuine transformation. My essay will attempt to outline some of the most important values and strategies necessary for the creation of, and the transformation to, high trust organizations.
Virtually all of our societal organizations seem to have either forgotten or have never really known why they exist and what their higher purposes are. Instead, they have often elevated narrow individual and institutional self-interest into the only purposes that they recognize as valid. Our governments all too frequently serve the politicians and the public service unions rather than their citizens. Our schools too often serve their educational bureaucracy and teachers’ unions instead of their students...