How I’ll topple a domino that’s 21 feet tall

It’s only been three weeks since my last day working in a big company,  yet my to-do list is already overwhelming. No matter how busy I am, the list only seems to grow.

A simple change change in perspective helped turn stress and panic into focus and progress.

The ONE Thing

A friend recommended a book call The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. Just 13 pages in, it grabbed my attention with a metaphor about dominoes, citing a physics journal article that described “how a single domino is capable of bringing down another domino that is actually 50 percent larger.”

A domino that’s 2 inches tall can topple one that’s 3 inches tall, which can topple one that’s 4 1/2 inches, and so on. The 13th domino would be over 21 feet tall, and the 23rd domino would be as tall as the Empire State Building.

“Getting extraordinary results is all about creating a domino effect in your life…Highly successful people know this. So every day, they line up their priorities anew, find the lead domino, and whack away at it till it falls.”

So I started to think, “What’s my next domino?”

What's your ONE thing?

The best staff meeting ever

That question was in my head when I was in last week’s staff meeting. I used to dread such meetings, but now I look forward to them. The “staff meeting” is just my wife and I talking over coffee every Sunday morning, reviewing clients and products, progress and challenges.

As I was going through the list of things I was working on and planned to do, she stopped me and said: “Don’t worry about all of that.” She explained how the work I was doing for one particular customer was the main priority that would lead to more clients and revenue. “Just get this one thing right.”

My wife didn’t need to read a book to see the benefits of extreme prioritization. We agreed on the ONE thing, and that simplified everything. It’s not that the other tasks disappeared, but that each day I know what I have to focus on above all else. That clarity enables me to realize a much higher return on my time and effort.

The next time you’re overwhelmed by your to-do list, whether it’s for your work, family, or health, think of how you’ll answer if someone asks you: “What’s your ONE thing?”

Then do all you can to topple that next domino.


p.s. In looking into this different kind of domino effect, I came across this demonstration video by a physics professor. He started with a domino only 5 millimeters high.


“Collective efficiency” - from possibilities to programs

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about ways to use collaboration platforms to reduce costs at work. More self-serviceLess printing. Lower mobile bills. They're mundane topics but the value of just these 3 solutions is about $23 million to a large firm. These examples, and many more like them, are part of an entire class of cost management possibilities we call “collective efficiency” - solutions that use social tools and practices to help a firm identify and eliminate waste. Other classes of solutions produce revenue - e.g.,  through improved innovation, cross-selling, or lead generation. But costs are tangible and revenues are in the future. If you can reduce costs, you’ll earn credibility and the right to do more business-building work.

To realize the potential of collective efficiency, though, you’ll need the power of grassroots efforts combined with the structure and process of successful programs.

Why we need collective efficiency

The usual way to cut costs is top-down, perhaps through an overall goal that’s apportioned and cascaded throughout each department and sub-department. This works reasonably well in some cases. (Only the real estate division, for example, can decide on what buildings to occupy.)

Yet, there are at least 2 problems with this approach. The first is that it tends to limit cost-cutting to things aligned to organizational boundaries. After all, budgets are allocated to organizations and you can only cut what you own. The second problem is that there are often unintended consequences of cuts aligned by organizational boundaries. The costs you cut in one area may well increase costs somewhere else in the firm.

By enabling individuals across the firm to identify and eliminate waste, collective efficiency solutions complement the top-down methods and open up new ways to realize value.

From possibility to proposal

To come up with ideas for collective efficiency, you don’t need a complicated innovation program. (The first 3 solutions described so far are evidence of that.) You can start by looking at all the different places your firm spends money and, for each one, think “how could connecting people and best practices result in smarter spending?”

Turning the ideas into proposals requires things you’d find in any business proposal: the problem you’re trying to solve, how much could you save, and the resources you need to save it. (For example, your firm’s total printing costs $30 million, you have specific 5 ways to reduce printing by 20%, and you need 1 person and $100k to do it.)

But since it’s a social business effort, you’ll need 2 additional things.

A community structure

Though collective efficiency solutions get their power from individual contributions, they require a structure to drive change in a scalable way.

“...grassroots change movements as diverse as charities, open-source software, and crowd-sourced content actually all [have] well-defined structures.

While the movements appear “natural and spontaneous,” all the successful efforts create specific roles and rules that concentrate responsibility and help with decision-making.

Even in wikipedia, in which anyone can make an edit, there are key roles of administrators, bureaucrats, and stewards, each with clear guidelines on what to do and how to do it.”

The structure for each solution (e.g., increasing self-service) echoes the structures in most successful communities. You’ll need a passionate leader/community manager. You’ll need local champions in different locations. You’ll need people to head up each idea that comprises the solutions. If there are 5 ways, say, to increase self-service, then each is a working group or special interest group with its own set of roles.

Without formal roles you’ll dilute the effort and limits its impact.

An engagement plan

Also akin to communities, you’ll need an engagement plan to attract people to the effort and sustain contribution. That involves finding a way to grab their attention, creating an emotional connection, and enabling people to take action and make themselves part of the tribe.

The best framework we’ve found is from the “The Dragonfly Effect”. It's called the FGET framework (for Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action) and we’ve described it in a previous post and applied it in the solution for reducing printing.

Applying this framework will benefit every proposal in your collective efficiency portfolio.

From proposals to programs

Lastly, you’ll need a formal link to the org chart. Why? Because tying the effort explicitly to a spot in the hierarchy transforms the solution from a volunteer effort to one that is recognized by the firm; one that's tracked and reported on and made part of people’s objectives. It changes the effort from a nice-to-have to a must-have.

Here’s an excerpt from a post on the need to “embrace the org chart”:

“This may seem at odds with the spirit of social business efforts. After all, they’re typically associated with a self-organizing, emergent, network-style of getting things done. And so Andrew McAfee, author of “Enterprise 2.0,” tackled the question: “Does or should the network render the hierarchy obsolete?”

His straightforward answer was “No.”

Rather, the new form of management is “a fantastic complement” to the more traditional ways of getting things done. “You don’t have to abandon roles, job titles, and chains of command.” In fact, you need those things to implement the kinds of changes the social business movement is after in the first place.

As Bertand Duperrin also said “enterprise 2.0 is the ally of a hierarchy that wants itself to be agile and efficient.”

Yes, social tools and practices make it possible to connect expertise, coordinate efforts across divisions, and drive behavioral changes in ways that weren’t possible before. And to realize the full value of this at your firm, you’ll need to turn these possibilities into specific business proposals and connect those proposals to the org chart.

That’s how you’ll be able to turn ideas into institutional priorities. That’s how you’ll be able to programmatically implement collective efficiency across the firm and realize its full potential.

The Value of Collaboration #3: Reducing Blackberry costs & mobile phone bills

Remember about 10 years ago when your firm would reimburse you for your Internet connection? That’s over now. We reached a tipping point where so many of us wanted a connection anyway that firms didn’t need to pay for it any longer. Now, a similar shift is underway with mobile phones at work.

By using social tools and practices to accelerate that shift - and to trim mobile bills for corporate mobiles that remain - large firms can save more than $7 million.

The problem

The problem is both the number of phones and the way we use them.

A large firm can have 20,000+ Blackberry devices and 20,000+ monthly mobile bills in addition to the cost of licensing and operating the Blackberry service. Yet, in many countries (US, UK, Germany, Brazil, Russia to name a few.), we already have more mobile phones than people  - more than 6 billion mobile phones globally. Does your firm really need to pay for you to have another one?

Worse, those 20,000 phone bills the firm pays every month, particularly in a global firm, are inevitably higher that what you’d pay at home. Roaming charges and international rates routinely inflate mobile bills simply because people aren’t as careful as they are with their own phone and their own money.

The solution

The main reason everyone originally got a Blackberry in the first place was mobile access to email. Now, though, technologies like Good and MobileIron are making it increasingly common for people to access their corporate email and calendar (and even documents and the intranet) via their personal iPhones, iPads, and other devices.

Unlike Internet access, it won’t be as simple as a change in policy (“In 2013, the firm will no longer pay mobile phone bills.”). Solutions involving personal devices are sometimes intrusive requiring, for example, that individuals let the firm install corporate software on their device, monitor usage at certain times, and wipe all the data on it. And you can’t force everyone to accept that.

That’s why you’ll need other methods to change behaviors.

As we saw in a previous solution aimed at reducing printing across the firm, applying the “Dragonfly Framework” can help raise awareness and nudge people to make different choices. For example:

Pick a clear goal: “Reduce Blackberries by 20% and mobile bills by 10%.”

Make people care about it: “We can save over $7 million! Donating 5% of that can bring clean drinking water to 14,000 people!”

Make it easy for them to change: “The Geniuses will be in the lobby this week to help you set up your iPhone or iPad.”

Give them feedback and stories to keep changing: “Here’s a story from Jane who said iPad access to work “changed her life.” And a moving video taken by our Mumbai office about a nearby village using their new well for the first time.”

You’ll need this kind of campaign to quickly drive meaningful adoption and realize the potential savings.

What’s it worth?

For years I’ve had a Blackberry and an iPhone. And yes, I’ve had the occasional $300+ bill when I travelled because I didn’t make the effort to use local numbers or to use Skype to call home.

Now, though, I have access via my iPad and iPhone and I’m tired of carrying multiple devices. So I gave up my Blackberry, eliminated the extra phone bill, and realized  annual savings to the firm of at least $1500.

Across the firm, even conservative estimates of  the costs get quite large:

20,000 phone bills * $100/month * 12 months = $24 million

20,000 devices * $300 upgraded every 2 years = $3 million

Reducing the number of devices by just 20% yields a savings of $5.4 million. (I don’t count a reduction in the Blackberry service itself as we assume, conservatively, that’s those savings are offset by other mobile infrastructure.)

Now you’re left with 16,000 mobile bills every month:

16,000 * $100/month * 12 months = $19.2 million 

Reducing those bills by 10% (through awareness of the costs, cheaper alternatives, and the benefits) yields another $1.9 million for a total savings of $7.3 million.

Why doesn’t everyone do it?

Re-examining mobile access to the firm is a relatively new source of savings, involving trade-offs for both the firm and the employees. In that face of newness and complexity, change will be slow. People will just stick with what they have and what they know.

But there are more than 7 million reasons to use social tools and practices to accelerate the change.

It’s another mundane example, far from the revolutionary rhetoric about overthrowing management. But it underscores how everywhere you look, everywhere your firms spends money, you can augment policy with greater awareness and behavioral change. You can nudge people to do the right thing both for the firm and for themselves.

The Value of Collaboration #2: Reducing how much your firm prints

Could you pick a more mundane use case than reducing how much people print at your firm? Yet a collaborative effort to do this can be worth a lot of money - more than the cost of your entire social business effort.  In the catalog of solutions we’re compiling, printing is in a class of solutions targeting personal consumption. Printing, mobile phone bills, car service usage, file storage. All of these services tend to be bloated by waste since people typically don’t know how much they cost nor how to access cheaper alternatives.

We’ll examine each of these solutions in separate posts. Just reducing printing by 20%, though, could be worth $6 million to a large firm.

The problem

Although environmental awareness has reduced printing at many firms, we still print too much. And much of what we print is unnecessarily costly.

Without including printing for external clients, a large firm still prints between 500 million and a billion pages a year. For perspective, the World Trade Center in NYC is about 5 million pages high. Now imagine 100 or even 200 World Trade Centers stacked on top of each other stretching 60 miles into the sky. Or, worse, imagine cutting down a forest of 120,000 trees every year.

And we have more control over printing costs than you might think. A complex full-color title slide, for example, can cost well over 50 cents - 50 times more than a less colorful version and 200 times more compared to a simple black and white version.

The solution

There are many ways to reduce printing. Defaulting to black & white and 2-sided printing. Using simpler templates that don’t require as much toner. Using “pull print” technology to avoid those stacks of printouts people never pick up. Accessing docs via iPads instead of printing anything at all.

The hard part is changing behavior. And that’s where the social platform comes in.

Most people don’t know - don’t even think about - how much their personal printing costs and how much it adds up across the firm. The same is true for other personal consumption at work. For all of these campaigns, we’ll use the 4 elements of the “The Dragonfly Effect” framework that I described here:

Focus: Identify a single concrete and measurable goal.

Grab attention: Make someone look. Cut through the noise…with something unexpected, visceral, and visual.

Engage: Create a personal connection, accessing higher emotions through deep empathy, authenticity, and telling a story. Engaging is about empowering an audience enough to want to do something themselves.

Take action: Enable and empower others to take action…move audience members from being customers to becoming team members.”

Applying that to printing might look like this:

Pick a clear goal: “Reduce printing by 20%.”

Make people care about it: “We can save 22,000 trees and $6 million!”

Make it easy for them to change: “Here are 3 great alternatives.”

Give them feedback and stories to keep changing: “You’ve already reduced your printing by 8%. Together we’ve saved 5,200 so far this year.”

Just as “The Dragonfly Effect” relates numerous stories of using social media to drive social change, you’ll be using your firm’s social collaboration platform to drive behavioral changes across the firm.

What’s it worth?

I used to print and file everything - handouts from every meeting I attended, every document I commented on. Now, at work, I can store all those docs on the firm’s collaboration platform and access them via an iPad. That shift has reduced my printing costs to zero.

For those who don’t have this setup, simply changing templates and getting everyone to switch can reduce toner costs by 15%. Setting defaults to double-sided printing can reduce paper consumption by half.

The key is to spread the new behaviors across the firm.

Given all the alternatives, you could realistically cut printing by half within your firm. To realize $6 million in savings, you’d only have to reduce printing by 20%.

Why doesn’t everyone do it?

The main barrier here is that no one is responsible - and everyone is responsible - for printing. You need to find and connect the few technical people who can, for example, change printer defaults globally. And you also need to inform and motivate everyone across the firm to reconsider what they print.

That used to be impossible. Now, though, social tools and practices make solutions like this something every firm can and should implement.

The Value of Collaboration #1: Reducing internal service costs

When it comes to the commercial value of collaboration platforms, there’s still a gap. McKinsey thinks social technologies can unlock a trillion or so of value annually. For a single large firm, social tools and practices could easily be worth $500 million. But these projections are too high-level to help people change anything. Despite the possibilities, many firms simply aren’t realizing the commercial benefits of their collaboration platforms.

I hope to fix that. In a series of posts, I aim to create a solutions catalog of sorts, including:

  • specific problems large firms need to solve
  • how social tools and practices solve them
  • the commercial value of solving them (where value calculations will be based on available research and applied to a hypothetical 100,000-person firm)

The next time an executive asks “Why do I need a collaboration platform?” I want readers to have at least 50 million answers (and ultimately 500 million).

The first solution in the catalog, and the first $10 million in value, are based on reducing internal service costs by increasing self-service.

The problem

At home, when you have a question, you search for the answer. But at work, you call someone or send them an email. (Or, worse, you interrupt several people around you and ask whom to contact. Then you call someone.)

That’s because the knowledge to address your issues is locked up inside different knowledge bases across the firm and there’s no simple way for individual employees to find it.

How big a problem is it? Employees in a large, complex firm can generate 200,000 email and phone queries per month about desktop, mobile, and HR issues alone. And those are just the official requests to help desks. In addition, there's another 200,000 queries per month at least (e.g., for the firm's 1000s of individual applications) that typically get routed to other staff.

Handling all of those 4.8 million activities every year requires a lot of people. A good estimate is $50-80 million for the firm’s cost of internal service. And that doesn't include business opportunity costs or lost productivity for employees.

The solution

By using the online forums of a modern collaboration platform, you reduce this cost by making answers easy to find and easy to trust so users can help themselves. (Here is a good, succinct summary of other benefits in addition to reducing costs.)

This isn't a new idea. Companies have repeatedly shown the value of doing this with their customers. Now, though, you can readily apply the same tools and practices inside your firm.

The solution has 4 parts:

  1. Use the collaboration platform to store answers you already have.
  2. Post all new issues as forums on the platform (and nudge users to post their issues there as well).
  3. Recognize and rewards users who provide feedback or help answer questions.
  4. Assign a curator for every application support team and every help desk who’ll be responsible for content and for interaction with users online (monitoring and responding).

IT and HR teams are already doing most of this this work. They’re just doing it - and doing it less effectively - on their own information islands. By coordinating support efforts around the use of a searchable set of forums, you make a single, universal search box the point of user contact instead of a phone number.

Not all issues lend themselves to self-service. And some, like password resets, require some automation before users can help themselves. So you’ll still need support staff and ticketing and workflow (e.g., to dispatch a technician and track status of an outage). You just won’t need as much.

What’s it worth?

Besides being more convenient, online self-service can easily be 80 to 120 times cheaper than service via phone or email.

Importantly, the feedback and contributions from customers make it so the online knowledge keeps getting better and better - and so even more issues can be handled online. (Even in 2009, there was a compelling business case for creating customer communities, for example. Over time, the numbers just keep getting better.)

My own experience is that a single curator and her community of users can build up a knowledge base of 500-1000 questions in just a few months by working out loud (pushing content onto the collaboration platform as issues come up) . That has translated into support costs plummeting by more than half for certain kinds of applications.

Across both IT and HR, a conservative estimate is that you can move 20% of the support burden to online channels. At the low end of the range for a firm’s annual support costs ($50-80 million), a 20% shift to on-line self-service would save $10 million every year.

Why doesn’t everyone do it?

The biggest barrier isn’t adoption by users. As the Corporate Executive Board put it, it’s one of the rare cases of “cost savings customers want.” For many simple requests, on-line self-service is simpler and faster and so users actually prefer it.

The biggest barrier is that each department, and very often individual teams, cling to their proprietary knowledge bases. They’ve created systems and processes optimized for tracking activities instead of increasing user satisfaction and the speed of finding answers. (This is particularly true when help desks are outsourced.) And they're loath to change what they do for the greater good.

So you'll need more than a grassroots campaign to implement this solution. To help users help themselves - and realize at least $10 million of value - you’ll need to prescribe the use of the firm’s collaboration platform for all help desks and IT support teams.

What’s it worth?

If social tools and practices can fundamentally change how we work, how much is that worth? As a starting point, I estimate the top 4 US banks alone can use social business efforts to realize an extra $5 billion of value.

At least.

Things to focus on

Sameer Patel is a noted social business consultant (now at SAP) who writes about accelerating business performance using social software. In a recent post, he pointed out that much of his audience is still asking the wrong questions.

“...we’re still looking at things such as “Encourage Sharing”, “Enable Action”, “Knowledge Capture” and “Empowerment” as end value points via social business...If practitioners can’t draw connectors between strategic and tactical objectives and how social networks facilitate execution, end users and executives won’t experience the needed aha moment.”

Focusing on people is important. But to be relevant to businesses, we better also focus on eliminating waste and increasing revenue opportunities.

Where to look

At large firms, in particular, controlling expenses is always difficult. The larger the firm, the harder it is to know who does what and who spends what. The costs - and the waste - add up quickly.

In just the top 4 US banks, for example, there are over 1 million employees and over $287 billion in costs.


Bank of America


$90 billion
JP Morgan Chase


$81 billion
Wells Fargo


$65 billion


$51 billion

Not all costs can be reduced using social tools and practices. (Legal costs, for example.) But, in looking to improve efficiency, a good place to look is in the support areas - large divisions that cost a lot but don’t bring in revenue. A good rule of thumb is that about 1/3 of the people and 1/6 of the costs are for 3 such functions - IT, Operations, and Finance.

Just that slice of these firms costs $47 billion.

A good match for social business

Drilling further into that number, a firm like Bank of America might have 50,000 people in IT alone. (In contrast, Facebook is worth almost as much as all of BofA yet employs only 3,000 people.)

What are those IT people doing? They’re not writing software. Largely, they’re moving information around. They’re coordinating work among multiple teams and functions. They’re supporting systems and trouble-shooting problems. They’re overseeing the use of expensive hardware, software, and market data.

And those are terrific areas to apply social tools and practices.

Social business efforts are ideal for connecting people across locations and across teams to solve problems more quickly, reduce cycle times, reduce service calls, optimize the use of resources, and a wide range of other use cases.

These banks have all tried the traditional, centralized approaches to cost-cutting - offshoring, vendor management, bonus reductions - with some good results.

But the waste is too insidious, too pervasive, to just be managed centrally. And the only way to drive out the waste in that $47 billion of support costs for these 4 banks (and in the overall $287 billion of expense) is to enable much more distributed approaches.

  • Can the 4 banks improve the spread of best practices to reduce their computing costs of $12+ billion by more than 8%?
  • Can they reduce the time associated with chasing information to increase productivity of the 300,000 support people by more than 5%?
  • Can they crowdsource the quality of who’s using what (and how) to reduce overall expenses - not just cut but optimize - by an extra 5%?

Yes, yes, and yes. It may not necessarily be $5 billion in savings. It could be more.

How to generate more revenue

It’s important to focus on costs because those are the hard dollars. Still, a lot of revenue flows through banks. The 4 big banks generated revenues of well over $300 billion.

How much more could they generate using social tools and practices?

Morten Hansen writes about one aspect of this answer - cross-selling - in his excellent book, “Collaboration.”

“Wells Fargo is able to collaborate internally across its eighty-four businesses to present “one Wells Fargo” to customers, who in turn buy more products. This collaboration contributes to profitable growth.”

Social tools and practices are ideal for exactly this kind of objective - connecting people, products, and ideas across the firm to deliver “one Bank.”

The Wells Fargo CEO knew that “The cost of selling a product to an existing customer is only about 10 percent of selling the same product to a new customer.” And, with a focus on cross-selling during the period from 1997-2007, Wells Fargo doubled their sales-per-customer.

Importantly, that number was twice what Bank of America sold per customer in 2007. And the profits-per-customer was also double. (Hansen includes excellent data in the endnotes of “Collaboration” to back up these numbers.)

With well over 100 million customers, think of how much more revenue the 4 banks could generate. Now, add that to the cost savings above and my estimate of $5 billion of extra value looks conservative.

Think big

In the past year, I’ve been guilty of aiming too low. Of trying to save, say, $10 million so I could have a positive ROI. That’s nowhere close to good enough.

We’re in the middle of a megatrend. And now is time to go after the big commercial benefits.

As Sameer writes,

“The first innings of social in the enterprise is over. Those organizations that like to experiment have done so...But there’s massive untapped opportunity out there to revise the value proposition...Until then...executives will treat “social business” as another Mickey Mouse program until they see how it matters to revenue increase, cost reduction and risk mitigation.”

For the social business movement to be sustainable and relevant for enterprises, then we have to focus on achieving measurable commercial benefits.

To help the people working in our large enterprises, we have to go beyond just connecting them. We have to make our enterprises much more efficient and effective.

An idea for saving 10,000,000 dollars + 10,000 lives

When you think of social business case studies, you might think about new ways of communicating or supporting customers or generating sales leads. But the range of social business is actually much broader than that.

“What you’re really trying to do is create a culture of network thinking.” (A quote from the very smart Rachel Happe.)

If you do that - if you use a social business lens to take a new look at old problems across your firm - it turns out you can create some wonderful solutions.

Here’s an example.

An age-old problem

Large companies routinely pay for resources that employees no longer need or want. It’s a big but mundane problem that might escape the attention of social business advocates.

Most cost management is usually focused on the approval process. Once an item’s approved, though - whether it’s hardware, software, market data, or even real estate - it’s inherently difficult to know when something’s no longer required unless the employee leaves.

Also, employees often don’t know what’s being charged on their behalf. And, if they do, they don’t have much incentive to give things back (even if they knew how). So, as people move and re-organize, and as needs changes, the waste adds up.

In a company of 100,000 people, just $100 of waste per person adds up to $10 million. Given increasing technology costs, you’ll probably find more than that in your IT department alone.

Applying network thinking

At most firms, all of the data about who uses what is locked up in different golden sources in different divisions. And the traditional approach is to produce reports and have business management-types look for possible cuts.

A better way - a “social business way” - is to let everyone see their own data, crowdsource the quality of that, and provide feedback mechanisms to share what’s working.

Making the data available and easy to change

Getting access to the data is usually the hard part, but the social business platforms are making this easier than ever. Companies like Jive and Tibco ”give your legacy apps a social life” by “exposing data from backend systems.”

With platforms like these, employees already have a rich profile with data from HR and other systems. And this is a perfect place to display an employee’s personalized bill - all the resources the firm is paying for on their behalf - along with ways to communicate a change to the right service provider.

Making people care

Even if everyone knew their costs, though, they'd need to have a reason to look at their bill and change it.

How would you make them care?

The Dragonfly Effect” offers useful examples. (It also provides a great framework for driving enterprise change in a scalable way.)

It demonstrates how to engage people by “creating a personal connection, accessing higher emotions through deep empathy, authenticity, and telling a story. Engaging is about empowering an audience enough to want to do something themselves.”

Saving money for your big corporation might not inspire you. But what if, for example, a percentage of those savings went to providing clean water to people who don’t have it?

Organizations like WaterAid can give someone clean water for as little as $25. What if you knew that by simply reviewing your bill that you could transform a life? Or several lives?

Sharing the change

Now comes the social part: connecting people across the firm with the people they’re helping and with each other.

Whenever you talk about bills and resources, you show the video of a village turning on the tap for the first time, talking about the difference water makes. Not just statistics, but real people in real places.

And whenever you’re promoting the impact your initiative is having, you talk about the teams in the firm who are making a difference so they can inspire others to do the same.

It’s those stories and those connections - those virtuous feedback loops - that turn a good idea into a movement.

They can take a common business problem in a big firm and turn it into something that can change lives. A movement with real commercial benefits that employees can genuinely care about and want to be a part of.

That’s the power and the possibility of social business.