Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Combining Mindfulness, Value and Leading Edge Product Management

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Guest post by Barry Libert

Mindfulness is all the rage in the leading management circles of the world.  Leaders from major corporations like Google, Microsoft and Aetna are all beginning the practice.  In fact, according to HBR, “Time Magazine recently put ‘The Mindfulness Revolution’ on its cover, which could either be seen as hyping the latest business fad, or as signaling a major change in the thinking of executive leaders.  I believe it’s the latter,” said Medtronic’s Bill George. But the question is not whether mindfulness will help leaders lead with purpose, but rather will it help them lead with clarity towards the ‘true north’ of value.


As an active meditator myself who is also interested in how mental models drive business models, I started exploring how mindfulness was being used inside companies such as Aetna, Keurig Green Mountain, Intel, Google, General Mills and many others. In fact, at this past year’s World Economic Forum, mindfulness was one of the hottest topics, with multiple sessions not only devoted to the science of mindfulness but also how to practice it.  What was missing was how mindfulness was, or at least could be, connected to organizational value creation.

In today’s networked and platform world, our research clearly indicates that organizations with customer co-creators consistently win.   But, many are wondering what a customer co-creator is and how and where can they be found? Equally important is whether you can work with customers to create your future products and services.  In a truly mindful world, you will begin to see that customer co-creators are those that want more than just your products.  In fact, they want more than your services.  They want to serve themselves as they do at Airbnb, Alibaba, Ebay, LinkedIn and Amazon.  They want to be in control of what they buy and ultimately, what they sell.   To truly understand this new way of thinking, you need to understand that the ‘true north’ in today’s platform world is where peer to peer exchanges are creating the most valuable companies in the world.

5 Steps to Leading with Purpose

So how do you become truly mindful about what your customers want – e.g. to be co-creators of their own well-being?  Our answer:  Follow these 5 steps:

  1. Identify how your core beliefs manifest in business.
  2. Uncover the core beliefs that motivate these behaviors and priorities.
  3. Invert the core belief and consider the implications.
  4. Extrapolate what implications these new core beliefs will have on your actions.
  5. Act on the new core beliefs by sharing them with your team.

Inverting what you believe and do is not easy work.  But when you realize the value of this new mindful way of doing business and co-creating with your customers, it is clear that there is an enormous payoff, as Apple has seen with their Apple developer community. The iTunes App store is filled with products created by Apple users.  These co-creators have created billions of dollars of revenues for both Apple and the developers themselves (who are not Apple employees).

It’s time to combine mindfulness, purpose, co-creation and value

While the cases from Apple, Aetna, Intel and Keurig Green Mountain are impressive, you may be asking yourself, how can I communicate the benefits of mindfulness to my leadership? My co-authors asked these same questions and came up with the following recommendations:  Use mindfulness to:

  1. Truly understand your customer’s co-creative capabilities
  2. Consider new compensation and rewards for your co-creative customers
  3. Generate new ideas from your customers in creating future products and services

The bottom line:  Customer centricity is no longer enough to win in a platform and networked world where everyone (and we mean everyone) can buy and sell almost everything to everyone.  Join the platform revolution and use value based mindfulness not just as a new age gimmick, but as the center of your future business model. You may think that we are way off the edge on this one, but corporate and value based mindfulness is beginning to penetrate Goldman Sachs and BlackRock,  making it clear that even organizations without a reputation  for ‘true north’ value-based practices are thinking that maybe mindfulness is a good investment.

Authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck, Jerry Wind

The Network Imperative:  How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models

The Product Management Perspective: The software product world is always evolving. Examples like Apple’s developer community are changing the world of software development. As the product leader you need to pay attention to these trends and make sure you stay ahead of them.

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