By RedBalloon for Business

People first companies know have found the key to business success

I recently listened to the Future of Work Podcast by Jacob Morgan. This episode ‘How Companies Can Change the World (Not Just Non-Profits)’ interviewed Bruce Poon Tip the founder of G Adventures.

He tells the story of how he completely transformed his successful travel business to be purpose-driven. Transforming its impact on the world, the type of people it employed and the experience for their customers.

Poon Tip is a big believer that companies and not just non-profits should be seeking to rectify all that is wrong with the world. He believes that traveling is a form of wealth distribution and that those seeking to make a lasting change should consider ‘who’ benefits from the vacations they take.

Cruises and holidays in luxury compounds in some of the most beautiful but poor countries, don’t do enough to benefit those economies. Foreign-owned luxury compounds profits are funneled out and cruise ship businesses often own the destination shopping centres that they ‘stop off’ at allowing people to see the country when they are really seeing nothing of the country at all.

He wanted G Adventures to be different, to have a purpose that allowed the countries his customers visited to benefit. “When people travel with G Adventures they are going to have the chance to shop at local vendors, stay in local hotels and eat at local taverns and restaurants in order to build up the local economy.”

In the podcast he talks about some of the steps he went through to turn the company around to its new purpose and it started with people:

I fired the HR Department

“I fired the entire HR department because I didn’t believe in traditional HR and I wanted to change my business into a ‘people business’.

“I don’t agree with traditional HR, HR is there to put systems in place to take away people’s freedom. It’s to avoid companies from making mistakes really and it also manages to the lowest common denominator, because they spend so much time managing problem employees that they start managing everyone based on the people trying to game the system and it creates a bad company culture.”

“I knew I’d have to totally reinvent all of that if I wanted to change my business.”

I gave away the CEO title to the people

Poon Tip described how he thought the most important title should go to the most important people. And the most important? “anyone dealing with a customer”. Anyone in a customer facing role is now known as a CEO or “Chief Experience Officer”. “I now have thousands of CEO’s” he says. Every tour leader is empowered because they are the CEO.

I created a Talent Agency

“I had to redevelop our philosophy on how we looked at ‘people’. Instead of HR, we have something called the Talent Agency, taking cues from how you manage gifted talent as opposed to managing people.”

We started a Culture Club

“And then we started what we called the ‘culture club’ a department that proactively manage our company culture”. We now know this team as G-Force.

What comes across loud and clear is the critical role played by his team to create a purpose-driven business. Later in the podcast he talks of how his hiring decisions completely changed. Now it’s about hiring people who will actively contribute to the culture, not just those who participate.

It also shows that transformation to a purpose-driven business is absolutely possible. Even for mature businesses.

So how is your business going to change the world?

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