The story here does not begin with "once upon a time..." here, goes more like: "Hey pals! Let´s do a company which works in a different way. Let´s think in having a better society first, let´s think in changing people´s life giving them the opportunity to be happy, and after that, see if we can make a good business based on that..." 5 years after that, company is running, rocking out the marketing research industry and consolidating its own model. Here you have: Views Corp.
Views Corp. was born in 2006. It is a Marketing research company based in Colombia, South America and so far has direct operations in Panamá and Venezuela. Views Corp has 45-full-time employees and is a newbie in the market.
In 2011, Views Corp made it to the top 12 marketing research companies in its country. It is a high speed growing company and can count within its clients some of the top100 private and public companies from Colombia as well as transnational companies.
In the Business Management arena, Views can stand for being a clear management company. They do business with integrity and with a higher sense of duty.
Views Colombia started as an idea of two young men who, in their quest for independence, decide to create a company that would not only cover their economic needs at the time, but would also give them the opportunity to fulfill their personal mission. With their own experience as a starting point, they decided to identify the basic values upon which the company would be founded. This list included parameters such as fulfillment at work, flexible hours, a sense of respect, and fair wages. All those should be included in their short wish list. Felipe and Daniel—the first two founders—finally decided upon three well-defined tenets, which to this day are threaded into the basic fabric of the company: being happy, being robust, and giving back.
The two great and life-long friends wanted to create a new kind of company. A company that considered it‘s people as an end, as an objective in and of itself. To be happy, there had to be growth not only for the company, but for the participants, the people themselves, and society as a whole. And being robust/big, they thought, is more than simply achieving high returns. To be robust they needed to generate sustainable growth that could impact a large number of people and society. Though their proposals initially seemed utopian, bit by bit they have strengthened them and made them part of a corporate culture full of innovative ideas that definitively break with the current paradigms. Being happy definitively has to come with a completely innovative enterprise culture. Views proposed not only a challenge to the traditional models of management, but in addition, they tried to disseminate their business model to the involved ones (and their stakeholders), in order to create a broader impact.
The company has taken upon itself the definition of certain values, which are considered as indispensable for the construction of what they called ―Views Culture. Respect, for example, and the ability to accept and treat others as human beings, form part of the Views identity. Daniel, partner, argues that "Here we are all equal, and we treat each other as such. I am not better or worse than any of the people that make up this company." They have managed to establish an open, diverse and inclusive environment that is based on respect, maintaining the principle of alterity (see 'Materials' section for books by the Humanistic Management Network). As part of this trustfulness, respect given generates high levels of participation, a sense of belonging and in consequence high rates of achievements and fulfillment of organizational objectives.
Another of the deepest values of culture, kindness, is represented in one of the three pillars of the corporate culture, which is "Giving Back". Companies nowadays seek to be socially responsible with the purpose of have a positive image, obtain benefits and reductions in tax obligations or get a special remuneration for its ―Social Responsible Management". On the other hand, Views has established several ways to demonstrate that giving back, means going beyond the political correctness of CSR, what Paul Dembinsky refers as the difference between relation and transaction.
An example of it, is the act of forgiving. In the year 2010 the company was victim of a theft realized by workers of the company, who using resources, time and some clients of the company, create inside a parallel and similar organization. One of every four employees was a thief. In such situation, we evaluated according to our principles and company values. What to do? What to think? How to respond? The logical sequence of this story would most probably end with a dismissal of employees and quite possible start legal proceedings. However Views implemented an authentic reaction. The managers decided to forgive and to offer a new opportunity. But, why? We have stand out how our mental models determine the way of acting. So, here is where the whole theoretical background lines up with what we call a non-linear management and/or humanistic management. In attainment to the mental models of the leaders, that is to say the mental shared model of Views, the response for the thief situation was extremely consistent with Company‘s mission. The discovery of the theft brings up many obvious alternatives which are expected to be in the so-called normal curve, but the answer was no so obvious because they decided to be authentic, these means to respond with a not awaited alternative. Lets explain this a little further.
To forgive means accept mistakes, accept other one as a human being, vulnerable to commit mistakes. Giving back, means offer a new opportunity, return dignity, not to judge and, instead, create an organizational environment based on learning from problem situations. As Daniel remarks "They were deserved to be excused, I committed many mistakes and took second opportunities, we could not interfere in their dreams because of a mistake, they have their family and more than that, they are humans who can commit mistakes".
In adittion, Views culture goes far beyond of what would be expected to be received from a traditional company (i.e. command & control). Giving back crosses the limits of simply offering an economic aid. One of the programs that promote the abovementioned discipline is the construction of social interest houses (integral CSR). Though the initiative was raised initially between the executives of the company, currently it involves not only the employees, but also their families, leading a drag effect. Hence, the impact of what the company conceives as 'do the good and what is right' has been spread up reaching a broader impact, so culture and values have been translated into actions.
This is an example of how an informal management can go against an informal economy. Albeit small, the impact in the workers and families workers' mental models proof that a company who wants to give back to society and be financially sustainable it is not only possible but feasible and strongly needed. Also, that these social programs that help people in need transcend the typical and political-correctness model of Corporate Social Responsibility. In order to reduce the growing informal economy present in countries like Colombia and Latin America, companies must start by giving back and making the right thing (not only the 'legal thing'). For example, it is interesting to show that all the 45 workers of Views have full benefits and untimed/unlimited type of contract, which is an uncommon pattern for Colombian companies (and explains the under-employment rates). As part of their culture, Views has zero tolerance for corruption, and not paying all the benefits to all workers is not only unethical but a kind of corruption. Concomitantly, when the 2008/2009 world crisis, Views saw its earnings reduced by 35%. Aligned with its values, Views Corp. didnt fire any employee!
Another clear evidence of humanistic management practice is seen in the department meetings held every Monday morning. Each area manager is responsible for carrying out a session of about 40 minutes with all members of each department in order to share the experiences of the weekend. The weekend? Yes the weekend. Perceive employee as human being, means recognize the importance of his family, know about his life and be part of his relation with social milieu enforces the view of workers as inegral humans. By doing this, the road to humanness is possible.
Views has clearly define that the final goal of the company are the employees, his families, and society, so, all the efforts are aimed to create an environment of transparency in everything they do, and as it is possible go beyond the law, i.e. offer more than even the viewers could even expect. At Views they not only fulfill with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) required by law, they provide more than material needs. Why? Because they have already discovered that ―being happy goes far away from a mere salary.
Every story counts: It is not about a vote or a democracy. When we talk with our people, we let them know they count as an individual. Sorry. We do not make decisions with every body nor voting. In our company we belive each one has his role and by doing it in the best way, we can get the best result as a team. What we sure do, is to look deep inside the situation each time and put a delicated attention to the person who is living that situation. We do this because we are sure every body has a really special, true and meaningful story behind the situation. Sometimes it can be tuogh. Centanlly, most of the times it is. But Every single time, it is worth it.
Forgivenes: do not allow behavior that attempt to the organization. Do not allow your people the things in the wrong way. We don't! But, because we look for the story behind each mistake, we try to make clear if it is really a mistake or the person really think that is the riaght way to proceed. If the person is convinced of doing the things in that way, and it attempt with the company's integrity, we can be sure that person does not match with us. But if we find out the person made a mistake, we forgive. And when we talk about forgiving we mean it. It is not a second chance. It is not a stan by situation. We mean that person, after we forgive him or her, can be as he or she had never made a mistake. This is more complicated than the point above, but this is the core value in our organization. Without this, we could never get to the point we are standing right now.
The leader should be the most service focused person: When we think in the process of choose a leader for the organization, we focus in the key variables: Results and Value. We look for peolple that can get the higher results with the best set of values. We are sure, and we have meet them, there are a bunch of people that can get for us results than we can ever imagine. But we are sure that those people can send us, and our company, to places we don't wanna be close to. That is why we take a careful look to the service focus of the peole. We think tha sincerely honest serviceful people, must have a good set of values. We ask from the leader at Views Corp. to develop it service attitude not just with external clients, but with the people from the company.
1. We have testimonial from more than 50% of our people saying that since they work at Views Corp the live a better life. Not just financially. Ther really talk about quality time, they say they have better family life.
2. More tha 30% of the people who work at Views Corp took their significant one to the House donation day. They want them to see what they work for. Not their bosses, not their clients. They want to let them know they work for a higher pourpose.
3. People here at Views have got to places they never deamed before: Flight by airplane, see the ocean, drive a car, buy a house, visit a different country, study at university, become a Mom. And that it what make us proud.
It is a very hard road. But we learned that we need to do the right things because it is right to do them, not depending on the situation.
and our families.