Heart and Soul

downs01I read lots of business plans and I meet with many different companies each week. Not all impress me.

I meet lots of talented engineers who struggle with marketing and I meet plenty of brilliant marketing people who push lousy products. Sometimes I get bored because I want it all. I want brains and beauty, strength and gentleness, speed and agility, vision and attention to detail, heart and soul.

I want to meet highly competitive companies that deliver great products, and insist on excellence – and yet I also want to meet companies that live by their deepest values and put back more into this world than they take out.

I met such a company 2 weeks ago. Asker Produkt is a small business in Asker, Norway where all the work and production is done by employees who are either physically or emotionally handicapped. The company goes to extreme lengths to create work assignments and processes that compensate for the individual handicaps of each worker. Even though this is expensive and time-consuming, the result is that they have the happiest, most devoted group of employees I have ever seen. Anywhere.

downs02But the best part was that their attitude towards the quality of their products is totally inflexible and unyielding. Their philosophy is that the quality of their products can never be compromised and must be the absolute best possible in order to maintain high standards of excellence and the ongoing loyalty of their customers. You cannot push social responsibility if you are selling junk. No matter how hard, you have to do both. Quality and conscience. Only then will your customers fully stay loyal to your products as well as to your ideals.

This is the combination that so many companies lack. Excellence, but also social responsibility. It’s rare, but something that business sorely needs. Heart and Soul.

– RICK SALMON (June 8, 2009)

For more information about Asker Produkt, see the following link: http://askerprodukt.no/

Posted by Rick Salmon at 6:05 AM