I’m planning to bring some big news to my upcoming All Hands staff meeting. As President and CEO of The Newberry Group – an IT firm based in Columbia, MD & St. Louis, MO – I typically present on past performance, our forecast, and our plans for achieving those forecasted results. But this time my plans are far from business as usual. I intend to propose that The Newberry Group align its vision more closely to that of a true social enterprise.
I was inspired to make this pitch after attending the Center for Social Value Creation’s Social Enterprise Symposium (SES). Honestly, I didn’t attend SES with the hope of being inspired. I showed up mainly out of personal interest, given the strong encouragement from my son, a staff member at the Smith School of Business. Though it didn’t take long to discover just how relevant much of the content was to strategic questions I faced within my own company.
In a panel titled “Models for Impact: Reforming Capitalism” I listened to Jeff Cherry, Executive Director of Conscious Venture Lab, discuss the importance of having a clear company mission – both as an internal guidepost and as an external indicator of company value. I considered how a stronger mission could be a rallying point for all of The Newberry Group stakeholders; this was thought provoking.
After the first round of sessions, I connected with Tom Decker, a leader in the cooperative business movement, and discussed the advantages of more democratic corporate structures. I realized that, as an employee-owned company, The Newberry Group was well positioned to embrace many of these advantages. That was disruptive.
Finally, I attended a boardroom discussion led by Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director of the Babson Social Innovation Lab, on “Managing Human Capital in Mission Driven Organizations”. I found my own management and development philosophies so aligned with Cheryl’s that I wanted to finish her sentences. I began to see the dots connecting between my own practices at The Newberry Group and the abstract definition of a mission driven organization. That was motivating.
Before I left for the day, I connected with my son, who was managing SES. I had so much to say, but, head spinning, all I got out was, “I have a lot to think about.”
Over the weeks that have followed SES, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I’ve begun to understand that much of the value The Newberry Group provides for its employees remains currently untapped and if captured, would have a profound collateral impact on Newberry’s clients. I foresee making greater investments in internal community building, representative of the employee’s interests of the company. I also plan to implement a more democratic management strategy. My new working mission for The Newberry Group is – to improve the quality of life of its employees every year. And the business case for all of this? Lower turnover; greater diversity of ideas; improved talent and client acquisition.
I have a long way to go and still a great deal to explore, but I’m more committed than ever to having the interests of my entire company at heart in whatever direction I go. In this way, the Social Enterprise Symposium has inspired me to develop a truly mission driven organization.
Chris Steinbach, Chairman & CEO, provides overall direction for The Newberry Group and presides over the implementation of the corporate strategies, the implementation of best practices, and the profitable growth of the company. Prior to The Newberry Group, Mr. Steinbach worked at CSC where he started as a Senior Human Factors Engineer and eventually became the first Vice President of Operations for CSC’s $1.3 billion Enforcement, Security, and Intelligence Division. Successfully serving in this capacity, until he took the role of CSC’s Corporate Security Operations Executive wherein he served until his acceptance of The Newberry Group’s President & CEO position.