The inspiring 40 is the yearly search for the most inspiring organizations in the Netherlands. Based on large scale consumer research, case studies, interviews and desk research, this eighth edition contains the insights of 2018. The goal of this initiative of consultant Synergie is to understand how organizations grow. For the inspiring 40 we analyzed which organizations inspire, why and how they do this, and how this develops through the years. This year the insights more than ever contain a call for leadership, while at the same time, they are applicable to everyone.
What inspires us today is naturally tomorrow. Which organizations inspire us. What do they stand for? Why do they inspire and others not? The Inspiring 40 answers these questions. This year’s central theme is Business for Good – the ambition to change the world in a positive way from organizations. This year, it became even more clear how important we think this is in the Netherlands. Inspiring organizations work from win-win: They do the right things and are doing this extremely well. A special product is being used as a solution to drive a broader, often social development. Inspiring organizations work from positive business cases and on positive social cases. With their stories we present this year: the case for inspiration – the convincing prove that inspiration is the basics for growth.
These days, introducing a ‘purpose’ in the organization, is probably the most important step in each CEO’s career. This purpose is an important guideline for leadership and the largest source of inspiration for professionals. That is the essence: it is not about having a purpose by itself, but about unleashing the inspiration such a purpose brings. Within and outside the organization. Steer on this inspiration and the rest will follow.
There is still a lot to gain for Dutch organizations. They are being seen as valuable by their employees, but not as innovative. They are people focused, but not sustainable. They deliver quality, but are not leading. They have vision, but are not original. And most of all, leaders in Dutch organizations do not inspire employees. Inspiration creates movement. And it is this movement many organizations claim to look for.
The Inspiring 40 of 2018 demonstrates that Business for Good will be the new normal. Maybe this is new for you. Maybe you already work from a win-win perspective and are you looking for ways to create more impact. In both cases, the Inspiring 40 offers examples and grip. About sources of inspiration, the translation of these to business cases and to inspire colleagues and customers. And most of al about increasing impact. We wish you a lot of success with your organization!
Inspiration is a trend. Supermarkets are providing us with inspiration for our next meal, magazines seduce us with inspiring weekends off. Each vacancy opens the door to an inspiring future and each and every coach, trainer or leaders promises us inspiration nowadays. How comes it is so popular now?
We live in a world with many beautiful things. Our community has never been more prosperous. We know and can do more than ever. Almost nine out of ten adults in the Netherlands claim to be happy (CBS). This high level of happiness is constant for years and very high internationally seen. We cherish what we have. But at the same time, we sense this does not lead to satisfaction anymore. Cracks arise in our way of living. Think about the growing gap between poor and rich and global social climate concerns. Like this, a dilemma appears: we want to keep what we have and at the mean while change what is needed. Inspiration happens from the ideas making this possible.
The business case for inspiration
Inspiration is not yet a standard discussion in organizations. Not in the board of directors, not in executive committees, not at HR departments, and also not in supervisory boards. Economical aspects still dominate the board room. Eight years of research to the Inspiring 40 provides enough ground for a passionate plea for inspiration. The topic does belong in the board room and maybe even on top of the agenda. There is a very strong business case for inspiration with overwhelming proof. We see: organizations working from inspiration have both internal as well as external advantages. It is the key to bringing the best out of people. This is not the whole case for inspiration; social advantages also belong to this. But we will discuss this later. Even purely economically seen, the ‘case for inspiration’ is convincing.
Working from inspiration delivers many internal and external advantages. Inspiring organizations are places people want to work. In a scarce labor market, they attract talent making the difference. If you know how to connect people to a common goal, this means they have found direction. This enables a larger means of autonomy, enlarges creativity and lessens the need for control mechanisms. More autonomy, creativity and less control have a proven influence on employee satisfaction, their productivity and their intend to stay. (research Indeed, 2017).
Inspiring organizations do not advertise more, but less. Take for example Tesla, Tony’s Chocolonely and Picnic. They do not fight for attention, but are getting it. Their products are being bought without the need to advertise them. In the customers perception the quality of mission-driven organizations is better than non-mission-driven organizations. People talk about these organizations because their experiences are worth telling.
The most important characteristics of inspiring organizations are about their role in society. Especially sustainability gains importance;
New organizations in the Inspiring 40 are social enterprises (Triodos Bank, De Vegetarische Slager, Fairtrade Original) and purpose-driven organizations (The Body Shop, Dove);
Large, well-known organizations disappeared from the Inspiring 40: FrieslandCampina, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Marktplaats and KLM;
In 2013, the Inspiring 40 consisted of 13 purpose-driven organizations and 1 social enterprise. In 2018, the Inspiring 40 consists out of 3 charities, 1 not-for-profit, 11 social enterprises and 12 purpose-driven organizations;
Out of the 15 most inspiring organizations, most are currently a social enterprise, charity or not-for-profit;
Organizations of which the inspirational value increases are a social enterprise (Tesla), not-for-profit (Rijksmuseum), charities (WNF, Rode Kruis) and purpose-driven organizations (Picnic, Rituals);
The ones decreasing the most are the large listed companies like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, KLM, Coca-Cola;
8 out of 11 ‘ones to watch’ (organizations scoring high on inspirational value, but are not yet enough well-known) are social enterprises or purpose-driven organizations;
The list of most inspiring people is being led by people with an inclusive message for all people: Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Barack and Michelle Obama, Floortje Dessing and Oprah Winfrey. Besides the own father and mother.