The success chain

I thought of the phrase “the success chain” the other day.

I was writing an article on Runa Tea and its founder Tyler Gage (for Youth LeadeR magazine), and I noticed how cleverly joined up the Runa supply chain was.

What I mean is this:

  1. Tyler and the US company want to achieve financial success by selling Runa’s guayusa tea in the American marketplace.
  2. To get the tea, there must be an economically successful wholesale tea seller in Ecuador … so, Runa’s US success is dependent on the quality of the Ecuadorian guayusa tea product (and the reliability of its infrastructure).
  3. This gives the indigenous Kichwa tribes an economically viable lifestyle that relies on the success of the native guayusa tree.
  4. There’s more … because the guayusa grows in the shadow of other trees, it thrives in a biodiverse environment, meaning that the success of the tea-plant is directly dependent on the success of a biodiverse rainforest.
  5. To grow the business in the US, the whole chain must grow, meaning a growing US market equals a growing biodiverse rainforest in Ecuadorian Amazonia tended by economically viable indigenous tribes.

Here’s a link to a YouTube clip about how Runa Tea works.

I love how this is put together.

They have three core goals:

  • Their own financial success
  • Caring for (and replanting) the rainforest
  • Providing economically viable lives for indigenous populations

These could so easily be in conflict, with the first slowly eating away at the second and third as pressure is applied by lenders and owners of the organisation’s capital – but here’s the rub: they are aligned so that they are all pulling in the same direction.

Success at the sharp financial end of the chain cannot be achieved without success at the other, more idealistic, end!

This doesn’t always happen.

I can think of plenty of examples where the espoused goals of an organisation are in conflict, where the achievement of one can directly take away from another

This is often the case when a goal includes something that involves unnecessary expenditure and so can then take away from the over-arching goal of financial success.

Success chain (n): a chain of objectives in which each objective must succeed in order for the next to succeed. The main objective of the organisation can only be successful when all the steps in the chain are also successful.

Most businesses could map out a success chain showing exactly what successes are needed along the way so that they can reach their main goal – but how many of them would have all of their other espoused objectives as necessary links in that chain in the way Runa has?

I mucked up my MBA Strategy exam by arguing that organisations were responsible for delivering their mission for the providers of their capital, and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) was not a given. If their CSR activity contributed to their mission, then it was good tactics, but if it was just giving money away unnecessarily then it was ethically dubious and possibly unsustainable. Much better, I argued, that those lovely good things they aspired to do, be necessary steps in the process, and not add-on extras.

I failed that question (got 40%), but I maintain that I was right, so I have the moral victory.

I think that this is an interesting challenge for organisational leaders. How can you align the business so that the good stuff has to happen in order for you to succeed?




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