Andrew Thornton on SPARKing a change     

HiBL - Hi-Res with Strapline

I am delighted that my colleague Eudora and I are running a workshop at the SPARK the Change conference in London in July. I feel we are living in a very exciting time as organisations start to get that the old way of doing business just isn’t working any more. A small yet significant number of business leaders realise that the ‘profit at all costs’ approach to doing business is not the best way of maximising long-term value and that a people and planet based ‘heartful’ approach leads to a far better company. Better in terms of a place to work, better in terms of the customer experience, better for communities and the environment, and in the end better for shareholders and other stakeholders in general. These leaders are being ‘sparked’ into action to do things differently.

Since I started sharing my Heart in Business Limited vision three years ago, I have noticed a shift in interest with more and more business leaders getting what I am talking about. And getting that this isn’t some tree hugging, hippy idea.  This a far more commercially viable way of being, and one that has a positive impact on society.

So what do I mean by a heartful business? We have six pillars that we use to define one:

Truth:  Creating an environment where people can be truly honest with each other, all the time. A place where it is safe to bring all of yourself to work, rather than leave part of you at home at the front door.

Care:  That as an organisation you care, care about your people, your customers and community, your suppliers and the environment.

Listening:  A culture where people are properly listened to.

Gratitude:  Where people share what they are grateful about with each other, a focus on what is working and making that even better; rather than one where the focus is on what is not working.

In-flow:  Where people are spending most of their time doing what they are passionate about – what they love and are good at doing, supporting them to work through the challenges they face in order to achieve this.

Higher Purpose:  Where there is higher reason for being as opposed to just trying to make as much money as possible.

What I loved about SPARK the Change last year is that the companies attending where all ones who were on that journey. And while they might not all have used the word ‘heartful’ to describe what they are doing, they would mostly recognise what I am describing here. And with this desire to run companies this way comes a huge positive energy, one I felt as soon as I arrived last year.

As we have applied these principles to Thornton’s Budgen’s, the supermarket I own, what I have noticed most of all is that rise in energy levels – when you come into the store you can feel it, as can customers. It ripples across the whole store positively effecting store standards, innovation, customer service, profit margin and how we interact with our community.  When we first implemented these changes sales increased 7%. As I write, the store is tracking up 2% on last year, when most of our competitors are seeing sales declines.

All of which, as my colleague and our store manager Jim always says is “good business”!

Andrew Isaac Thornton and Eudora Ralph Pascall are speaking at the SPARK the Change conference in London on July 6 and 7