Three Examples of Brands That Are Winning with Values

How USAA, Disney and Chick-fil-A transform purpose into growth.

Every time consumers open their wallets, they show their preference for the brands they trust.  A key driver of relevance is the values brands stand for and the way they bring those values to life in the customer experience.

The 2019 Prophet Brand Relevance Index® gives us a unique view into how brands today stay relevant to consumers. To determine relevance, Prophet surveyed 13,500 U.S. consumers about more than 225 brands across 27 industries. It measured four brand principles: customer obsession, ruthless pragmatism, pervasive innovation and distinctive inspiration. Within these principles, we measured how customers rated brands on a set of values and beliefs that align with their own.

The study reinforced a strong correlation between relevance and values (R2=0.55), suggesting that brands that effectively demonstrate strong values externally have greater relevance with the consumers they are engaging.  Said another way, consumers place greater weight on how brands demonstrate and live their values rather than the specific values themselves. We can look to brands that perform highly on “has a set of values and beliefs that align with my own” to learn how to help drive greater relevance in the market.

 The Importance of Brand Values

To have a lasting impact, brand values need to be more than words on a wall – they need to come to life across touchpoints, internally and externally. Internally, values can engage, empower and equip. They form the foundation of a company’s culture, defining behavioral standards, unifying employees, boosting morale and helping employees work towards a shared vision. When employees enthusiastically live the company’s values, those values radiate externally and can be felt by customers.

Brands that turn their commitment to values inside out create deeper relationships with consumers who share those values and believe in the brand’s bigger purpose. Brands with weaker values – or those that don’t live up to their values – can have negative impacts on customers’ perceptions of the brand. To see the impact values can have on brand perceptions, we studied brands that are winning with customers and employees around a shared set of beliefs and values.

1. USAA – Values That Build Empathy

USAA, #46 in the BRI overall, brings their values to life for employees, empowering them and transforming how they engage with customers. The company starts by reinforcing its values internally, providing employees with a USAA membership and conducting extensive training. Through USAA’s “Surround Sound” approach, trainees read deployment letters from soldiers and even practice carrying a 65-lb backpack. These values-driven experiences enable employees to see their work through the customers’ eyes, creating a connection between the employee and the needs of the customer. As a result, customers feel that USAA employees truly understand their needs, which are rooted in their personal beliefs and values.

“When employees enthusiastically live the company’s values, those values radiate externally and can be felt by customers.”

2. Disney – Values Motivate at Every Touchpoint

Disney, #5 in the BRI overall, has beliefs that are continuously reinforced throughout the organization – through how leaders communicate, to how performance is measured, to how employees are recognized and rewarded. Disney’s professional development team, Disney Institute, showcases the “business behind the magic” as a resource for companies across industries. One feature, “Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement,” explains the company’s commitment to selecting the right people and retaining them. A key aspect of this commitment? Reiterating the brand’s core purposeto create happiness – and empowering each employee from the start to provide outstanding service to guests with this purpose in mind. This constant reinforcement and clear communication of expectations create an intentional culture where decisions are rooted in those beliefs. And customers feel the values as the magic of Disney is brought to life across channels and touchpoints.

3. Chick-fil-A – Values Drive Consistent, Quality Experiences

Chick-fil-A, #27 in the BRI overall, has values that are an integral part of their company, with each team member – from corporate leaders to frontline employees – living them every day. Unlike the rest of the QSR industry which largely takes a transactional approach to customers and employees, Chick-fil-A has constructed an intentional culture rooted in family values with a “servant leadership” mindset. This is nurtured in the culture across every touchpoint, from how they recruit talent (e.g., observing how potential hires interact with employees) to how they engage with customers (e.g., closed on Sundays and saying “it’s my pleasure” when serving customers), and ensures employees truly live the culture and values every day.

Chick-fil-A’s values are so deeply engrained in employees’ lives, that they permeate into customers’ experiences. The chain has established a high bar for what customers will experience at any of their restaurants in the country, and with values that are instilled on the individual level, the brand consistently delivers.


From our analysis and best practice examples, we believe that brands who get credit for their values do the following:

  1. Define shared behavior-driven values: Customers can tell when an employee understands who they are and what’s important to them. Creating values that employees and customers share builds a platform for authentic relationships and better service.
  2. Motivate at every touchpoint: Consumers can see values come to life across touchpoints along the entire customer journey and even beyond it.
  3. Make your values known: Of course, values need to be felt before heard, but brands should take a stand to communicate their values in order to help customers understand what they are and why they matter.

Consistently bring your brand values to life helps to shape customer’s perceptions and set expectations. By defining who you are and what you believe in, you can attract customers who share those same beliefs and foster deeper, sustained loyalty.


Organization and Culture: Looking into 2020 Trends

Ease hiring struggles with an improved employee experience–and plans to build young workers into your future.

It’s the time of year when organizational leaders are publishing their 2020 plans, hoping they are effectively responding to the disruptive forces and opportunities of the digital age.

We’ve similarly been reflecting within our Organization & Culture practice here at Prophet. Our views come from not just our ongoing research, but also from helping our clients around the world lead transformations of all shapes and sizes. We’ve distilled that experience into the three factors we believe will be critical to organizational transformations in 2020.

In setting out these opportunity areas for focus, we are not saying these are the only big-ticket items that should occupy your attention. But it is our belief that the ones we have selected are going to become points of differentiation in accelerating successful organizational transformation.

1. Connecting Purpose and Ambition

We’ve written previously about the arrival of “purpose” as a critical component in transformation; bringing a sense of meaning and direction by answering why an organization has its place in the world. We have helped many clients arrive at their north star and to think beyond words about what needs to happen daily for them to infuse true purpose into their organizations and thereby align behaviors and accelerate decision making across the business.

But having a purpose alone is not enough to help people through the dizzying world of change we are in. What our 2019 research revealed is needed, and what we are now seeing more of in successful transformations, is codifying purpose through a clear, measurable and time-bound ambition. For some organizations, this is as narrow as painting a comprehensive picture of what a digital transformation will look like in their own firm and for their customers. For others, it means creating a more tangible set of future outcomes that cater to the complete stakeholder ecosystem, both in and outside of the organization.

2. Incorporating the Next Generation of Workforce Planning into Your Talent Strategy

We see organizations realising more starkly than ever before that they were designed for a different era. New operating models are no longer a consideration – they are becoming a necessity with significant implications for an organizational redesign. Tinkering at the edges of this problem is no longer viable.

Workforce planning is a key strategic imperative, but it has moved firmly beyond predicting talent needs to a synthesis of three formerly separate disciplines: functional and enterprise visioning, business architecture, and powerful people analytics. All three of these disciplines impact how you organize talent to deliver on your business ambition. Prior approaches were frequently focused on cost-cutting and demotivating, decoupled from growth strategy, and executed with the thinnest veneer of quantitative insights to support them. We’re toe-to-toe with this issue with several clients right now and we’ve found that the next generation of workforce planning is different from past approaches because it’s:

  • Linked to vision and ambition
  • Driven by business architecture and not existing organization charts, it’s more tightly coupled to longer term business strategy
  • Facilitating more strategic decision making as quantitative tools help SaaS people data platforms really come into their own

On top of this, the reskilling component of workforce planning has now ballooned as a result of years of declining learning and development investment and the use of often ineffective, low-cost alternatives. The future is already here for some leading companies making multi-billion-dollar investments in reskilling in order to remain competitive.


Employee experience (EX) has long been talked about as the acid test of any employer brand – the reality of expectations met or otherwise. But in a world where consumer brands have shifted to build their worth through experience first and foremost – suddenly the connective tissue between EX and Customer Experience (CX) is a growing area of focus and can easily hit the headlines when it clearly falls short – notably recently at the direct-to-customer luggage brand, Away.

This is made even more complex through the interplay between technology and humanity – and the challenge that EX has lagged light-years behind CX in terms of technological enablement. The sad truth is that so many “employee tools” are actually designed to cut costs and make the lives of Finance, HR and Operations teams easier – rather than deliver a customer-grade employee experience. As a result, we see HR leaders looking to approach EX differently and learn from CX innovation. And there are also CX leaders taking a more holistic view of the organization and looking at how EX can really drive differentiation for their goals. Ultimately, there is a big prize: EX that is powerful and makes work easier for employees, thereby delivering both direct and indirect benefits to the end customer and reinforcing the value proposition for employees to join a firm and thrive – win, win, win.

“Our views come from not just our ongoing research, but also from helping our clients around the world lead transformations of all shapes and sizes.”


One final point. There is one theme we have not yet called out but, in our view, it flows through our identified focus areas and that is humanity. As symbolized by our Human Centered Transformation model, the organization is a macrocosm of people. Too often leaders continue to mistake the pursuit of digital innovation as separate from the people agenda, which inevitably fails to drive the outcomes they seek. The value created by any organization is rooted in human contribution. Its transformation therefore needs to be viewed in that way.

There is little point in reflecting on 2019 if it does not drive action in 2020. We suggest that you closely consider plans for the year ahead to determine if they adequately address these three transformation focal points and if not, make them your first new year resolutions.


Webinar: Lessons on Leading Business Transformation

Knowing where to start transformations is important. So is knowing how and when to course-correct.

59 min

Culture is a key lever driving transformation and unlocking uncommon growth for organizations today.

Hear first-hand from Prophet’s Chief Transformation Officer, Paul Greenall, and Senior Strategic Advisor, Bill Margaritis, as they sit down with Tyler Durham to share how they have both successfully navigated the challenges faced during business transformations within Fortune 50 companies.

Thank you for your interest in our webinar.

If you’d like help identifying a clearer path to transformation and how to best use culture as a key lever to drive that change then please get in touch today.

For further reading, be sure to take a look at our latest global research report: Catalysts: Cultural Levers of Growth in the Digital Era – referenced in the webinar, it outlines the key fundamentals you need to prioritize now in order to drive impactful change from the inside out.

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The Future of Healthcare & Consumer-Centricity

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Purpose Driven Brands are Relevant Brands

Why IKEA, DIsney and Lush resonate with consumers in the UK, because they know actions mean more than ads.

It is well reported that brands with purpose outperform their peers; often attracting and retaining the best talent, providing a real point of difference for consumers. Unilever announced strong results that support this notion with purpose-led brands in their portfolio growing 69% faster than the rest of the business and delivering 75% of the growth.

The results of our 2019 Prophet Brand Relevance Index® (BRI), which speaks to 12,200 consumers in the UK to understand the brands most indispensable to their lives, shows that many of the brands successfully soared up the rankings are the ones centered on clear, authentic purposes. Brands like Lush, Ikea and Disney have all seen their relevance with British consumers increase over the past 12 months and they were classified as purpose-driven brands in the U.K.

“It is well reported that brands with purpose outperform their peers; often attracting and retaining the best talent, providing a real point of difference for consumers.”

So, what do purpose-driven brands do to drive success? Purpose exists to differing degrees in organizations and even for those that are truly purposeful, there is an ongoing journey to maintain the conversation and engagement with consumers in order to stay responsive in an ever-changing world.

Here are three fundamentals to become a purpose driven brand:

1. Identify a purpose rooted in truth

A purpose cannot just be invented. It is not just a slogan or a campaign. A purpose-driven brand knows why it exists, and what it wants to achieve. It is at the core of what makes the brand relevant because it is in the DNA of the company. Ikea, for example, knows the importance of brand purpose and stays true to its guiding principle to ‘create a better every day for the many people.’ Even as Ikea continues to grow, its relentless focus on bringing design to the masses in a way that is authentic and transparent has manifested itself across the entire business model. This year, the brand jumped up 10 spots in our BRI, to sit comfortably at 18.

2. Articulate the ‘why’

A purpose should inspire its audience, acting as a rallying cry for its employees as well as a demonstrative signal to the outside world of the values and belief system behind the company. To drive impact, the purpose must resonate with hearts and minds.

A great example of this is Disney, which climbed to No. 14 in the Index with its simple and inspiring purpose: “make people happy.” Not only is this rooted in the organization’s DNA, but it inspires across all levels of the organisation and drives behaviours in the pursuit of constantly increasing happiness. This single unifying principle speaks to the heart. And when a purpose speaks to the heart it has the power to truly inspire change.

3. Activate with conviction

A purpose-driven brand doesn’t make empty, albeit appealing and cleverly executed, claims. It actually uses its brand purpose as a yardstick to measure what they do and how they do it. Brands that possess purpose have a clear conviction; they don’t just talk, they act too. Purpose drives relevance and perceptions, but to do so employees and customers need to know about it.

Lush has long been a proponent of cruelty-free and vegan products. And whilst much has been made of previous campaigns what constantly remains at the core of their actions is a real conviction. Lush doesn’t just talk about the environment, it acts on it. It is a big deal to put your conviction above profit but that’s precisely what the brand did on Friday 20th September when it closed its stores and website to lend its voice to the climate crisis. It is no wonder Lush powered into the top 10 this year, with British consumers scoring it highest on relevance measures such as ‘has a set of beliefs that align with my own’ and ‘lives up to its promise.’


Brands need to learn that it’s actions and not ads that make the difference. To build a relentlessly relevant brand, and perhaps move through next year’s Index, you must identify your organisation’s true brand purpose, articulate it well to employees and customers, and activate it for the world to see.

If your brand is ready to become a purpose driven in order to unlock uncommon growth, let’s set up a time to discuss. Our team of strategic consultants is ready to help you chart the course.


Social Media Employee Advocacy

Employees like sharing work stories. Social efforts support employer branding and increase worker engagement.

Tapping into the power of an engaged
social workforce

The use of employees to advocate on behalf of their brand is nothing new, but a combination of market forces and growing comfort with social business has created a tipping point for the growth of formalized Employee Advocacy programs. In Ed Terpening’s latest report, he surveyed brand leaders, employees and consumers to understand employee advocacy. His research uncovered motivations for companies investing in employee advocacy programs; what motivates employees to share information about their workplace; and what employee-driven content resonates most with customers.

Key Findings

  • 90% of brands surveyed are already pursuing or have plans to pursue some form of employee advocacy
  • Consumer response to employee posts often outperform traditional digital advertising results
  • 21% of consumers report “liking” employee posts – a far higher engagement rate than the average social ad
  • Employee advocacy drives employee engagement. When employees are asked how they felt after sharing work-related content, the leading response was “I feel more connected and enthusiastic about the company I work for”
  • Employee advocacy supports employment branding. When asked which employee-shared content consumers found most relevant, recruiting rose to the top
  • Interestingly, European consumers are less likely to be interested in a connection’s posts about work and European employees are less likely to share work-related content.
  • Europeans have a stronger preference for keeping work and home life separate: 44% of Europeans cited this as a reason for not sharing work-related content, compared to only 23% of North American

Download the full report below.

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Experience Strategy: Connecting Customer Experiences to Business Strategy

When it comes to experience, customers want relevance and speed, not delight. How can you deliver faster?

Despite customer experience being a top priority for the C-suite, few organizations have a coherent strategy that aligns customer experience against business strategy and then across departments. Our research found that the key is to use relationships as the foundation for a next-generation customer experience strategy, with touchpoints and journeys remaining practical necessities. The strategy must prioritize experiences that create relevance in the relationship that in the end drives business results.

This report describes how to develop a strategy that starts by understanding the maturity of your experience strategy formulation and execution capabilities. From there, it includes the four steps of an experience strategy process:

  • Understanding the next generation customer on a continuous basis.
  • Creating a vision and guiding principles that connect experience to relationships.
  • Prioritizing experience initiatives for relevance.
  • Aligning the organization for execution.

Key Findings

  • Despite making customer experience a priority, companies still don’t know how to invest in it.
  • When it comes to experience, customers want relevance and speed, not delight. The most important elements of an ideal customer experience are fast responses to questions/complaints and the ability to find information quickly.
  • Experience strategy is defined as a set of prioritized and coordinated moves that use experiences to build relationships that result in brand and business outcomes.
  • A robust strategy starts with an honest assessment of where the organization is on the experience maturity curve, along three dimensions of Strategy and Vision, Organizational Readiness, and Leadership Alignment.
  • Organizations should take four key steps to build a next-generation experience strategy.

Download the full report below.

Download Experience Strategy: Connecting Customer Experiences to Business Strategy

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Perspectives on Purpose



Perspectives on Purpose, by Nina Montgomery and featuring Jorge Aguilar, brings industry leaders together to advocate for a more human-centered and socially-conscious future for businesses. Sharing stories from their work at companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Sephora, Airbnb, Diageo, VF Corporation and Hyatt, these authors demonstrate how weaving purpose into the profit-making core of business helps companies do good and do well.

“Perspectives on Purpose: Building Brands and Businesses for the Twenty-First Century” is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, or wherever books are sold.


Adam Grant
New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

To build a great company, purpose is not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. This book brings together a range of thoughtful voices on how to develop and communicate that purpose.

About the Author

Jorge Aguilar is a partner in Prophet’s San Francisco office. With experience on both the consulting and industry sides of global branding and marketing, Jorge combines strategy and creativity to transform organizations and drive profitable growth.


Want to interview Jorge or feature him on your next podcast? Please connect with us or Jorge Aguilar directly.


The Mind, Body and Soul of Healthcare’s Consumer-Centric Transformation

Change requires that leaders clarify purpose, articulate cultural expectations and alter incentives.

In today’s environment, patients are increasingly becoming “e-consumers” and that is a good thing. Despite its name, e-consumer is not a technical term. The concept of the “e-patient,” was coined in the 1990s by the late Tom Ferguson, M.D., an American physician who advocated for increasing the role of the patient in managing their own healthcare. E-patients, he says, are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled. While the concept of the e-patient is limited to direct interactions with healthcare organizations, we have expanded and evolved it into the e-consumer. Read more here.

If healthcare organizations are to serve the e-consumer and engage, empower, equip and enable them, they too will need to make a shift by putting the consumer at the center of all they do.

Challenges of Consumer-Centric Healthcare

  1. Expanding from patient-first to consumer-first thinking.
  2. Being consumer-first even when it conflicts with being physician-first.

Neither is an easy task, and both demand a change in both organization and culture for most healthcare organizations.

Our colleague Tony Fross writes about the “mind, body and soul” of digital transformation, but this model is also relevant for the consumer-centric healthcare transformation (digital or otherwise). In this Prophet model, an organization first determines what it wants its DNA to be – its purpose, its brand proposition and/or its strategic plan to win. Next, it goes to work on the “mind” (its talent, capabilities, and skills), the “body” (governance, process and tools) and the “soul” (its values, behaviors and rituals).

In interviews with over 70 healthcare executives for the book “Making the Healthcare Shift: The Transformation to Consumer-Centricity,” we found changing the organizations’ mind, body and soul to be burning issues, particularly among the CEOs that we spoke with.

Based on our findings, to be a consumer-centric healthcare organization, you must take the following steps:

1. Inspire the Team

Healthcare organizations may have a vision of where they want to go, but they need internal support to get there. “We didn’t develop a consumer- and patient-centric strategy for the sake of hanging it up on the wall,” says Kevin Brown, President and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare. “The patient is at the center of all that we do. We’re living and breathing it. It is how we manage, run meetings, prioritize initiatives, approve capital, hire talent.” Consumer-centric healthcare transformation must be activated at the ground level, and healthcare organizations can successfully inspire their employees in several ways; for example, demonstrate leadership role modeling, codify cultural expectations, co-create cultural expectations and make it personal.

Leadership Teams Need to Model Consumer-Centric Behaviors

Inspiring employees to embrace consumer-centricity requires vocal leaders, who demonstrate their commitment through actions. It is important to have leaders who are on board with pursuing consumer-centricity, as their behaviors set a precedent for the broader organization.

Articulate Cultural Expectations

Much like an organization’s definition of consumer-centricity, a consumer-obsessed culture is most impactful when outlined in a tangible manner and built into the organization’s processes. By articulating the culture through behavioral expectations, organizations can help employees understand what consumer-centricity means to them and what it looks like when carried out on a day-to-day basis.

“The patient is at the center of all that we do. We’re living and breathing it. It is how we manage, run meetings, prioritize initiatives, approve capital, hire talent.”

Tap Employees for New Definitions

In addition to articulating what consumer-centricity means, employees must derive personal meaning from it. That is particularly important, as employees are often the ones who interact with consumers and care for patients. Leadership can help employees find personal meaning through co-creation. After a merger, Indiana University Health (IUH) needed to integrate acquired and legacy cultures. The organization took the time to understand the needs, wants, and aspirations, both personally and professionally, of their employees to co-create a promise that was common to both its employees and members of the communities in which they lived. “Not everyone got the old promise, particularly our professional staff. With [the new one], everyone gets it. Can we show that we’re reinforcing this promise with actions and decisions? We have to do it for every patient, every interaction. That’s the next big step we’re working through,” says CEO Dennis Murphy.

Make Consumer-Centric Healthcare Personal

There is no question that healthcare is personal. Whether undergoing treatment or taking care of a sick loved one, we all experience healthcare at a deeply individual level. Sometimes, organizations can make consumer-centricity more powerful when leaders emphasize the personal aspect. That requires leaders to find their own source of inspiration so they can constantly remind the organization who they are serving each day, why their work matters and why the experience should be among the best in any category.

2. Enable Successful Employers

The executives we interviewed described many ways to enable their employees, including creating new working environments, reimagining traditional business functions and putting purpose over process.

Create Environments That Reinforce the Culture You Want

As healthcare evolves, the demands of employees at healthcare organizations need to evolve as well – and in some cases, change altogether. To solve that challenge, leaders are spending time with companies like Google to understand and replicate some aspects of the culture that those organizations have created to enable both digitally-minded and healthcare-minded people to thrive. If it takes bean bags and dartboards and modifying the dress code, so be it.

Remake Functions and Functional Expectations

In an effort to better address consumers’ questions at their first touchpoint, Florida Blue revamped its customer-service function. By investing in systems that aggregate data across formerly disparate platforms, employees were now empowered with the right tools and information to answer questions, as well as offer solutions and value outside of the immediate issue at hand. The tools don’t just enable employees to do their job; instead, they enable employees to do their job in service of the consumer, which ensures both internal and external impact.

Demand Focus on Purpose Over Process

As healthcare organizations shift their mindset, they may find that their current processes are not conducive to consumer-centricity. Great processes, whether operational or strategic, should be informed by asking how the organization can deliver the best outcome for consumers. Starting with this question leads to clarity of purpose for building a consumer-centered organization. This purpose-first, process-second philosophy better enables employees to deliver on a consumer-centric strategy instead of being inhibited by legacy processes and protocols. Healthcare organizations can empower employees to drive consumer-centricity by ensuring process doesn’t get in the way of progress (or purpose).

3. Incentivize the Team

Once employees have embraced consumer-centricity and have the tools to deliver it, they still may require an extra push to act. For some, cultural transformation requires an enormous shift in their day-to-day lives. Organizations can help by incentivizing their employees and teams personally, professionally and financially.

Establish Metrics That Drive Change

Mobilizing around consumer-centricity requires top-to-bottom alignment on common goals. Organizations need to establish clear metrics that reinforce consumer-centricity to the overall business strategy. If organizations value and reward only non-consumer metrics like revenue or operating efficiency, then progress on those metrics is all that will be delivered. Having consumer metrics, even ones as simple as satisfaction, is critical to showing and driving a true commitment to consumer-centricity. It changes employees’ motivations and behaviors, which are both critical components of culture.

Leaders are rethinking what they measure, moving from measures tied to satisfaction (e.g., Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System, NHS Patient Satisfaction Surveys) to measures tied to loyalty (e.g., Net Promoter Score or NPS). Relationship-oriented metrics help paint a fuller picture of the experience and will compel functions across the organization to establish ways of working that address the experience holistically.

Link New Strategies to People’s Pay

Putting compensation and promotions on the line is a sure-fire way to change behavior. However, incentives alone are not enough to drive results. Instilling lasting cultural change requires that employees have a clear understanding of specific performance objectives, behaviors and actions needed to drive improvements tied to consumer-centricity.

To set a foundation for its cultural transformation, Anthem looked at its key metrics and realized that, while consumer-centric measures were in place, the organization lacked clarity around creating real change. Executive leadership endorsed NPS as its key metric and tied it to executive compensation, resulting in a focus on relationship building with consumers. “Once it affected everyone’s bonus, the demand to meet with and discuss the metric took off,” says Doug Cottings, Staff Vice President, Market Strategy & Insights at Anthem.


While changing the mind, body and soul of an organization is difficult, there are tangible steps that organizations can take to get started. With employees who understand, embrace and live consumer-centricity, organizations can both win with and create more e-consumers.

Ready to partner with us to become a consumer-centric healthcare organization? Reach out today. 


Catalysts: The Cultural Levers of Growth in the Digital Age

Disrupted markets demand dramatic changes to strategy and infrastructure. Cultural transformation is the toughest.

The importance of organizational culture is now beyond question. No matter how digital they may be, all organizations are human and it’s the human factors of digital transformation that have grown in prominence. The ability to transform and create uncommon growth in the digital age obviously demands dramatic changes to your strategy and infrastructure, but it’s the challenge of culture which remains the number one hurdle holding many back from success.

Our latest research with business leaders from around the world outlines cultural levers that need to be prioritized to ignite digital transformation and create a path toward accelerated change.

In this report, you will learn:

  • What culture is and why it matters.
  • Where to begin and why a digitally-led transformation is different than others.
  • The hidden accelerators that make a significant difference to speed and sustain growth.

Download the full report below.

Download Catalysts: The Cultural Levers of Growth in the Digital Age

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Thank you for your interest in Prophet’s research!


Leveraging Organizational Culture to Achieve Uncommon Growth

Today’s leaders are beginning to understand that true transformation always requires a cultural change.

2 min

Why is Culture So Important Now?

According to Prophet Partners, Tony Fross and Helen Rosethorn, culture is so important now because in the past 20 years, the way we define and discover value has significantly changed. Organizations founded within this time period are thinking much differently than those founded before; and those more traditionally founded companies are looking for ways to also thrive in the digital era.

Our upcoming study will provide actionable strategies for digital transformation so that organizational leaders can get the outcomes they truly want.

Leveraging Organizational Culture to Power Business Growth

Organizational culture can be a powerful driver of growth in today’s landscape of transformation. But, is your culture helping or hindering your business to achieve its goals? Luckily, we have the secrets to success in our latest global study.

Culture is undoubtedly the most powerful fuel for maintaining a competitive advantage in business today. Our upcoming study by Helen Rosethorn and Tony Fross, both Partners at Prophet, provides processes for building a strong organizational culture.

This study provides insights from discussions with over 50 business leaders and 400 survey participants from across the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and China, arming executives with a set of concrete steps to drive high-performing, fit-for-strategy cultures.

In today’s digital age, organizations’ efforts to adapt are ongoing. Now is the time to harness the power of culture and help your organisation achieve uncommon growth.

Download the report.


Healthcare Transformation: How Do We Get There?

On the Healthcare Rap podcast, Jeff Gourdji, co-author of the new book Making the Healthcare Shift, breaks down the 5 necessary shifts for becoming consumer-centric, and how marketing and technology are involved. All that, plus an inside look at launching his book and a shout-out to little moments that make a big difference.

Listen here


The Body, Mind and Soul of Digitally Evolved Organizations

Getting employees to believe in transformation efforts requires a bold new way of thinking.

Why Corporate Culture is the Biggest Impediment to Digital Transformation

When it comes to digital transformation, many companies say the hardest part is changing the culture itself. They often do a great job signposting new corporate values, like innovation and agility. They hold town halls and may even pour millions into expensive technology initiatives. At best, they get poor adoption rates. But often the worst happens: Nothing changes.

After a few rounds of announcements, disappointed (and increasingly cynical) employees sit back and wait. Their leaders tell them that things must change, but then offer platitudes about their position as traditional industry leaders. “There will always be a need for pharmaceutical sales reps,” they might say, or “Those start-ups don’t even make money.”

Meanwhile, employees watch, keenly aware of digital natives that threaten to disrupt their own industry. They have few choices: They can leave for fleeter firms, or stay put, watching the clock tick.

Do Your Employees Believe in Your Digital Transformation?

For most older organizations, the digital age presents a very specific challenge: How might we compete when the assumptions about where and how value is created have changed? They know the answers lie in digital, and it’s not as though these born-before-the-Internet companies have been standing still. Most have many digital things–websites, sophisticated email strategies, social media and probably at least one mobile application.

Still, progress is slow. And employees, who spend their outside time experiencing companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify, are painfully aware of how behind the curve their own employers are. Convincing them that true digital transformation is even plausible, never mind possible, is difficult. Why should they believe you?

“How might we compete when the assumptions about where and how value is created have changed?”

What makes it worse is that even though employees can see–everyone can see–that the company needs to make radical changes, internal strategy teams focus on gradual tweaks and long-term transformation, to minimize disruption. While employees can see the company needs to travel vast distances to catch up, their employers are only taking baby steps.

Relatively few organizations have truly asked themselves, “What would we look like if we’d been designed in the last 20 years?” and then set a rapid roadmap, three years at the most, for working backward to create those capabilities and the culture to support them.

Challenges of an Incremental Approach to Digital Transformation

And the unrecognized truth is that taking an incremental approach to digital transformation comes at a tremendous cost. The widely reported “retail apocalypse” is an obvious example. Over the last 25 years, nearly all retailers worked hard, but slowly, to launch to e-commerce websites and mobile apps. They tried to balance conflicts between physical and virtual stores, creating expensive loyalty programs that gathered customer data.

But their incremental approach was often too little, too late. In the U.S., for example, grocers didn’t fully anticipate the speed with which Amazon and Walmart would enter their markets with advanced digital capabilities for serving shoppers. Dozens of chains, including Toys R Us and Payless Shoes, were forced into bankruptcy by online competitors. Mainstream and luxury department stores, from JC Penney in the US to Harvey Nichols in the UK, are teetering. Across Europe, high streets have been similarly decimated, with House of Fraser the latest to struggle. And in Asia, online retail continues to sizzle, led by Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall, as well as

That’s just one industry. Look at what Airbnb is doing to hotels and Uber and Lyft to taxi operators, or the way Grab is shaking up food delivery in Asia. These digital companies are succeeding because they know we live in an experience-first world. Customer wants are rapidly evolving, requiring dramatically new levels of organizational flexibility, agility and adaptability.

And that responsiveness is about technology, yes. But it’s very much about humans. Data can tell us what people have done in the past and what they need, but it can’t create new products and services. Digital technology can’t see trends, nor help you decide how to shift a business as markets evolve. It can’t drive culture, those values and beliefs that make people want to come to work for you every day.

Transforming an Organization’s Body, Mind and Soul

At Prophet, we’ve started thinking about digital transformation as rewiring the Body, Mind and Soul of the enterprise.

Body: Reinvent the Operating Model

A company is trained and equipped to achieve its vision if it can do three seemingly simple things:

  • Design customer-focused business processes unencumbered by bureaucracy
  • Create an organization with the right roles, empowered to make those processes fleet and effective
  • Shape a governance structure that makes it supremely easy to do the right things, versus being designed purely to block the wrong things

Modern operating models frequently depart from traditional approaches, organizing communities of practice instead of departments and using multi-disciplinary teams to understand customer needs and design new products, services and experiences.

For instance, a large financial services firm determined that its key strategic goal was to dominate the industry in customer experience and differentiate itself through service. But it was bogged down by business units so siloed that its best customers, those who purchased the broadest range of products, got the worst experience. Working with our team, the leaders agreed on a digital transformation vision. Two years after launching its new operating model, it has moved from being the customer-experience laggard to an industry leader, according to several analysts.

Mind: Energize the Talent

The relentless pace of innovation means that many companies struggle with a mismatch of skills and capabilities. This can even happen to digital companies: We recently worked with a global tech behemoth that couldn’t find a market for its newest products. It wanted to deliver innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products targeted at healthcare, but its talent wasn’t up to it. Product managers had never developed SaaS products before. Project managers weren’t trained in agile software development.

Addressing challenges within the Mind of your organization means pinpointing these mismatches, and either building skills through training or recruiting new talent.

Soul: Create More Meaning

The corporate soul, like the individual one, is as important as it is subtle. We approach Soul starting with the very DNA of firm: by identifying the purpose of an organization. We then begin defining the supporting values that make the firm a place that people love to work. Our recent research on purpose, based on 350 business leaders, confirms that this purpose must be evident to employees (and consumers) every single day.

And it must address big questions: What role do we play in the community? How well do we manage our impact on the environment? Is our workforce diverse? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that employees need to adjust to an increasingly automated world? Those with a well-defined purpose, like Starbucks, Patagonia and LEGO, inspire the way their people think and work toward the kinds of transformation that ensure values for customers and meaning in the work itself.


Balancing all three is challenging. But healthy human-centered enterprises recognize that mind, body and soul are connected. Organizational health–and the ability to step boldly into future transformation–comes from synchronicity between the three.

Learn more about how to spearhead your brand’s successful digital transformation.