Leaning into Leadership: Interview with Scott Davis 

Introducing Scott Davis, chief growth officer at Prophet. Scott has been my long-time mentor at Prophet, teaching me almost everything I know about being a good, empathetic leader, brand and marketing strategy and Prophet. Scott has been at Prophet for longer than I and has helped to shape this company into something that has kept me here for so long, from both a culture and an offer perspective. He knows the CMO like no other and has a passion for sharing his expertise with Propheteers and clients alike. Scott is a prolific speaker and author and if you get a chance to have him as a leader on your project, take it. He will transform and drive impact for you personally and professionally. I’ve experienced it firsthand and I’ve seen clients experience it firsthand, both during projects and long after. Enjoy my interview with my friend and colleague Scott! 

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?  

Scott Davis: At Prophet, I wear several different hats. As chief growth officer, I help lead our overall go-to-market position in the market: who we are, what we stand for, what we promise and why a client should choose Prophet as their partner of choice. A big part of my role is continuously making sure we are both anticipating and meeting the needs of the market and our clients and potential clients…helping them get to what we call uncommon growth – growth that is transformative, sustainable and – of course – profitable. I also wear hats tied to our non-profit work, our corporate marketing efforts, our growth accelerator efforts and am part of our Executive Committee. I also love developing our team and playing a role in building our culture…that is probably the best part of my job! 

I most often get called in by a client that has a brand-driven growth strategy issue; a brand repositioning issue; a brand portfolio and architecture issue; or needs help to create a new brand for a company or an M&A opportunity they are navigating. If any of those are the issues you are facing, I’m your guy. My 30-year arc has been all around helping clients figure out how to maximize the asset value of both the brands’ companies build and the marketing efforts leaders deploy. I have written a few books about both.  

AN:  How did you start your career and what brought you to Prophet?  

SD: I started my career at Procter and Gamble, where I was fortunate to learn about the wonderful world of packaged soap – from Tide and Joy to Dawn and Ariel – I was the “clean-up” guy. All kidding aside, I helped launch liquid Cascade and, in doing that, I learned the art of shaping customer perceptions, attitudes and behaviors; and the ability to influence the choices they make when choosing one product over another, even when they are highly commoditized. In a world where there was very little differentiation, brands often became the consumer’s final arbiter, often regardless of price.   

After P&G, I went to graduate school at Kellogg, and even though I had my heart set on Wall Street, I went to our “job fair” during my first year. At the time, I knew very little about consulting, but I visited the tables of the Big Five firms out of curiosity. I was amazed that you could build a career helping companies figure out how to solve problems, across industries, with a focus on learning and growth. I took my summer internship in consulting between my first and second year at Kellogg – and never looked back, which ultimately led me to Prophet. 

AN: Is there anyone who has influenced the way you approach your work?  

SD: Yes, I was fortunate enough to meet a mentor early in my career. Carl was a senior partner at Booz Allen and worked with me at my first job. He taught me what consulting was: this idea of helping companies solve problems, and get to whatever’s next for them, in a way they couldn’t get to on their own. Carl also taught me that the best consultants help teach their clients along the project journey, leaving them fully ready to take on activating whatever recommendations we put forward, on their own. I find that part of the job to be so fulfilling and empowering.   

Carl also taught me the idea that there are two kinds of consultants: hunters and farmers. The hunters are those that bring in new business. The farmers are those that land an account and stay on that account forever. Both are absolutely required in consulting and it’s good to figure out which you want to invest in as you grow your career.   

Finally, Carl planted the seed of an idea about me building my personal brand in consulting. He said it could have been as simple as becoming really strong in one area, like brand, and being asked to be on projects, or it could go as far as becoming well known externally for having a point of view on something — writing about it, speaking on the topic, teaching others inside and outside of my organization and becoming sought out by others that were looking for help. For me, that topic was brand, and at the time, there were only a few people famous on the topic of brand, my colleague and friend David Aaker being the gold standard. I thought that if I could do 5% of what Dave was doing, I might actually have a shot at a career. Carl and I carved out a 5-year plan and journey for me to become a brand. It could have totally bombed, but luckily it worked out okay and culminated with me writing my first book called Brand Asset Management. This also led me to work with David Aaker and join Prophet. 

AN: What is your go-to productivity hack?   

SD: A few things. My first is not a tool, but a person. My assistant, Tracy, is key to my productivity. She reviews my calendar at least four days, four weeks and four months out, as well as every single day to prioritize and work out conflicts. Together we block out four to five hours a week – just for work time. I find it challenging to get actual work done in a world where we’re all in back-to-back meetings, so those work blocks every week are critical.   

The next hack might seem small, but for me, it has a big impact. Every half-hour meeting – I believe – can be 25 minutes and every one-hour meeting, 50. It gives everyone breathing space between meetings to recharge and do whatever they need to do. This hack allows me, personally, to switch gears quickly because whoever I’m talking to in my next meeting expects me to be fully prepared to engage, as they should.  

AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?  

SD: Many of my close friends are doctors, so I would want to be in the inner circles of those leading the study of how the brain works – neurologists. Alzheimer’s and Dementia are in my family, and I don’t understand it to the level I want to. In a world where you live to solve problems for others, this one seems unsolvable. I’ve watched loved ones suffer and it causes so much pain all around. If I could understand it better, maybe I could at least help my loved ones navigate it more successfully. The second answer to your question would be to run a professional sports organization, ideally the Chicago Cubs, but that is for another time!  

AN: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?  

SD: I have white water rafted every major river across the US. I have been to over 500 concerts. The most memorable was Queen in a small town about an hour and a half outside of Nice, France. They performed in an outdoor arena that only held about 10,000 people. It turns out, this was a concert on their last tour. I also had a three-hour lunch, one on one, with Julia Child, just the two of us in a “closed for the day” restaurant in Boston.  

AN: What’s the one thing you’re trying to make a habit?   

SD: I don’t know if you can call this a habit, but I decided a while back, that it was important to talk to my mom (and dad) every single day. It could be 30 seconds or 20 minutes, but just a just quick hello check-in and an I love you. I didn’t think about this much when I was younger and often took our relationships for granted. As I got older and life started to happen, I realized I needed to prioritize the things in life that are true priorities, my family being number one. 

These are Scott’s answers to my new “Rapid Fire” questions. The interviewee did not see these in advance and had only a few seconds to think about their responses. Enjoy! 

Rapid Fire

  • How are you uncommon? I haven’t had a french fry since 2012. Tied to this, my grandfather was one “yes” decision away from opening up the second McDonald’s franchise and being Ray Croc’s second partner. I don’t think we would have this conversation if that had gone down.  
  • What’s your favorite day of the year, and why? Thanksgiving. It’s a day where I’m guaranteed to see all the people I love in one place and I can count on it every year.  
  • What’s your favorite place in the world? I have so many favorites but at the top would have to be Grand Cayman. We go every year and it’s as much about how beautiful the island and Seven Mile Beach are as it is about knowing that I will have precious time with my family for a couple of uninterrupted weeks a year, in our home away from home. 
  • What is one thing in business that no one is talking about, but should? AI and machine learning and the profound impact it will have on every business. I believe it’s going to disrupt everything in our marketing and brand world in ways we can’t even imagine, as have already seen with Chat GPT. We need to get smarter, get ahead of the curve, and start understanding how it can be a friend as opposed to this fear and anxiety and force of evil that many people think it could be. I really think it could take things to the next level in a positive way.  
  • What charitable organizations or initiatives do you support? I am passionate about ending hunger, and all the systemic issues that cause somebody to find themselves in a position of not knowing where their next meal is going to come from. One in six people go to bed every night not knowing where their next meal is going to come from…how can that happen in the richest country on our planet? Putting food on somebody’s table is a fundamental right but understanding the root causes of how someone got there—most often through no fault of their own—is the real job. I was in Springfield in May, advocating with legislators to pass several crucial bills, tied to education, jobs, meals in schools, working more closely with farmers, etc. all in the spirit of trying to tackle the hunger crisis in Illinois. I’m an optimist and truly believe that we will solve this seemingly unsolvable puzzle, sooner than you think. 


“Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may want to add to your leadership toolbox.” – Amanda Nizzere, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer


Deepen Innovation Maturity to Win Out Fintech Disruption in Southeast Asia

How financial services companies should innovate in this disruptive landscape in SEA. 

Financial services companies are at a crossroads, facing an unprecedented risk of relinquishing their dominance. The unique financial services landscape in Southeast Asia (SEA) has paved the way for disruptive fintech companies to emerge as agile and visionary players, causing significant disruptions in the sector. To stay ahead of the game, traditional and international banks must enhance their innovation capabilities and embrace a progressive mindset as business models have changed and more disruptive fintech companies establish themselves in the industry.  

The Unique Financial Services Market in Southeast Asia  

One of SEA’s unique characteristics lies in its strong demand for convenient and accessible financial services, driven by a relatively large underbanked population. The Global Fintech Report estimates that over 70% of the Southeast Asian population remains unbanked or underbanked, with Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia having the highest combined rates. Coupled with a large population of young and digitally savvy consumers, SEA’s digital economy has enormous growth potential. It is also worth noting that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are huge driving forces of the SEA economy but most of them face difficulty in securing bank loans as they are unable to meet the eligibility criteria.  

Moreover, the regulatory environment in SEA has made the region a fertile ground for fintech innovation. Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia are now dominant players in the regional fintech scene, establishing a supportive regulatory environment that has driven the rise of virtual banks and encourages innovation and collaboration between fintech startups and traditional financial institutions. 

The uneven financial services landscape in SEA has given birth to virtual banks and led digital native startups to venture into developing accessible and inclusive financial solutions for underserved populations in the region. With a strong culture of innovation, fintech companies and neo-banks in the region have been able to reach the underserved micro-segments that incumbent banks were unable to fulfill. 

A Dynamic Landscape of Fintech Disruptors 

Among the disruptors, Chinese powerhouses Ant Financial and Tencent have emerged as formidable players, shaking up the local financial services scene by introducing e-payment solutions for tourists and partnering with local players. For instance, Ant Financial has invested in Ascend Money in Thailand, and Mynt in the Philippines, while WeChat Pay partnered with PT Bank CIMB Niaga Tbk to enter the Indonesian market. These disruptive business models in China have influenced SEA markets to accelerate innovation. Agile players like Singapore’s Grab and Indonesia’s Gojek have since expanded into the financial products, digital payment and e-wallet ecosystem. Each country has witnessed the rise of strong fintech players providing e-wallet services – Momo in Vietnam, PayMongo in the Philippines, Boost in Malaysia, GoPay and OVO in Indonesia, and GrabPay in Singapore. Not to be outdone, telecommunication companies are now diving headfirst into the fintech realm, forging strategic partnerships to expand their offerings far beyond their traditional core services. 

Furthermore, we are seeing increasing collaboration between incumbent banks and fintech companies in the region. For example, Siam Commercial Bank’s fintech subsidiary, SCBX, has announced its readiness to apply for a virtual banking license in partnership with South Korea’s largest digital bank, KakaoBank. By offering digital banking services in Thailand, SCBX aims to enhance competition and address the challenges faced by underserved individuals in the country. Similar collaborations have occurred in Singapore and Malaysia, where joint ventures between super apps like Grab and telco brands like SingTel have given rise to virtual digital banks. Notably, AirAsia’s fintech unit BigPay and Malaysian telco giant Axiata have also partnered with lender RHB Group to drive innovation in the financial services sector. 

As such, the ongoing fintech revolution in SEA is transforming the way financial services are provided and consumed, bringing financial inclusion and innovation to the forefront.  

Rising Challenge for Traditional Banks 

With dynamic fintech companies being laser-focused on addressing the needs of underserved segments, fintech’s impact in SEA is undeniable, pressurizing incumbent banks to innovate and transform.  

Several traditional banks have demonstrated a strong capacity to withstand fintech incursions and even turn the tide in their favor. An example is MB Bank, one of the largest financial groups in Vietnam that embarked on a digital transformation journey in partnership with Prophet. Through a customer-centric digital transformation and a new innovative growth hack business model, MB Bank successfully reimagined its business, products and experiences, acquiring some 20 million new customers in just 3 years with its new tech-like banking platform unlike any in the region. Gaining leadership as the No.1 digital bank and recognized as the most valuable brand in Vietnam by Brand Finance, MB Bank is now proudly listed as one of The Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s largest firms.  

​​​MB Bank’s remarkable disruption of legacy banking and admirable achievements serve as an inspiration for other traditional financial institutions seeking continued success in the digital era. 

Leveraging the Innovation Maturity Model for Traditional Financial Services 

To help financial services companies rethink and review their innovation strategies, Prophet’s financial services experts developed the Innovation Maturity Model to offer a definitive roadmap for organizations to outperform disruptive fintech firms. The model provides a systematic blueprint, with a focus on essential pillars such as strategy, organization, insights, culture, and education, to ensure effective performance. By leveraging these pillars, organizations can make well-informed strategic decisions and cultivate a culture driven by innovation, empowering them to seize growth opportunities. 

Importantly, traditional financial services companies must foster a culture of disciplined and rigorous innovation to gain an edge over the pervasive threat posed by fintech disruptors. The five pillars of the Innovation Maturity Model offer guidance and ammunition. By adopting this model, companies are able to inspect five dimensions of the business that are critical to enabling innovation. 

1. Strategy and Vision 

The key to successful innovations lies in a focused strategy that aligns closely with customer truths and relevance. By developing future-proof solutions rooted in a profound understanding of current and future customer needs, financial services companies can navigate the dynamic industry landscape and remain competitive in the long run. 

Take inspiration from MB Bank, which gained a deep understanding of the pain points faced by Vietnamese consumers when it comes to banking. It had thus defined a clear strategic vision for its transformation to be a customer-centric and digital-first bank of the future, unlocking a series of innovative digital experiences for its young and underbanked audience. 

2. Organization and Mechanics 

It is crucial to embed innovation throughout the organization to efficiently deliver cutting-edge products and services. This involves fostering internal collaboration across different functions and tapping on external perspectives and knowledge, including that of fintech companies. 

A notable example is Standard Chartered’s collaboration on Mox (in partnership with HKT, PCCW and and Trust Bank (collaboration with Singapore’s leading retailer Fairprice), which enabled them to leverage the latter’s advanced huge customer base, technological infrastructures and cloud-native features. The consequential improvements in Standard Chartered’s operational efficiency and customer experience highlight the advantages of collaboration even with unexpected partners in the financial sector. 

3. Insights and Measurements  

To stay attuned to customer expectations, financial services companies must facilitate the integration of predictive and prescriptive capabilities. By harnessing the power of data analysis and insights, financial services companies can anticipate future needs and make informed decisions.  

MB Bank for example greatly stepped up its data analytics with its enterprise transformation, boosting insights with real-time dashboards across critical customer touchpoints as well as investing in Martech to better understand customers and improve customer experiences.  

It is imperative for financial services companies to consistently monitor the relevance and effectiveness of their initiatives and be receptive to necessary changes. By doing so, they can react faster and sharper to ensure that their innovation and customer experience initiatives remain in sync with customer expectations, resolve pain points and stay ahead of the curve. 

4. Culture, Behaviour and Rituals

Fostering an innovative culture is also pivotal to achieving long-term success. Financial organizations must adopt a mindset of perpetual learning and refrain from assuming that past practices alone will be adequate in the future. This is especially so as fintech and Insurtech are two of the fastest growing in SEA where innovation is the bedrock of these disruptors.   

Apart from inculcating an innovation culture with ongoing initiatives, activities like hackathons widely used in tech firms are also effective approaches to fostering innovation as they promote learning, skill development and exposure to novel methodologies and ideas. Hackathons can also serve as powerful recruitment tools. DBS, for instance, strategically leverages programs like Hack2hire to identify and attract highly skilled individuals with expertise in cloud technologies, AI, Big Data, and analytics. By hosting such hackathons, DBS creates opportunities to engage with talented individuals and recruit them into their organization, ensuring a pipeline of top-notch talent in relevant domains. 

MB Bank’s HIVE innovation lab is another notable example where new ideas are incubated, with collaborations with start-ups, and internal growth hacks and product innovations are continuously tested and piloted.  

5. Education and Enablement

Financial services companies must also recognize the importance of education and enablement. Traditional providers should strike a balance between internal and external education, offering training and enablement programs to keep employees updated on emerging trends and agile solution-building.  

Both DBS and MB Bank exemplify dedication to continuous employee development through the establishment of DBS Academy and MB Academy respectively. Through a blend of formal training with communities-based learning, both banks aim to equip their workforce with the necessary tools and digital skills to thrive in dynamic business environments. 

Additionally, establishing strategic partnerships and providing educational content to ecosystem partners empowers them with the latest technological developments. 


In this heavily fragmented and competitive financial services market, international banks and local giants confront the need to evaluate their capacity to effectively participate and thrive in local markets. Prophet’s Innovation Maturity Model presents a proven transformative framework that empowers financial services companies to bolster their innovation capabilities to drive sustainable, uncommon growth in the constantly evolving financial landscape. We’d be delighted to speak with you regarding your firm’s innovation outlook and how we can help you achieve them. 


Brand and Demand: An Interview with T. Rowe Price’s Head of Global Marketing Theresa McLaughlin

Chiaki Nishino, president at Prophet, speaks with Theresa McLaughlin, head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price, on the evolving role of marketing within financial service organizations. 

Theresa McLaughlin is the head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price. Before T. Rowe Price, McLaughlin served as an executive and CMO at global financial services firms including eight years at TD Bank Group as executive vice president and global chief marketing, customer experience and corporate citizenship officer.   

McLaughlin previously was at Citizens Financial Group, a division of Royal Bank of Scotland, where she served in various leadership positions over her 18-year tenure, including chief marketing officer, head of corporate affairs, internal communications, enterprise customer experience and innovation and director of product management.   

Chiaki Nishino: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact?  

Theresa McLaughlin: It is a very interesting time to be the global head of marketing especially when considering the evolution of digital transformation. When I was at TD Bank Group, the organization’s investment in third-party digital increased from 5% to 50%. Now it’s shifted to first-party digital investments.  

When the digital transformation first began, it wasn’t about brand storytelling but performance marketing. It quickly became a competition of performance marketing versus brand marketing. And that probably needed to swing in this direction to ensure there was a return with performance marketing investments.  

But when COVID hit, the proliferation of content in the media became intense, and organizations needed to shift to build more authenticity.  

Given all I have seen, I’m a big believer in brand and demand. I want to ensure that my budget in brand, individual business unit marketing and incremental campaign budgets are all looked at through an integrated model of brand and demand. Ultimately, I want to drive the brand into the product experience and the performance marketing strategy.  

CN: How have conversations with your C-suite and board changed as you take on new accountability in driving and proving business value?   

TM: There absolutely is pressure to demonstrate ROI, but as the global head of marketing, my job is to lean into storytelling. For example, we pull together the story and data in the right way, to show how we are influencing the full-funnel experience for our target audience and clients.   

When communicating the brand investment, I lean into classic upper and lower funnel brand metrics, but brand is about what clients say it is, not what we tell them. Therefore, metrics like NPS really matter when talking about the brand experience. I expect tough questions from across the executive team, so I lean into data to tell the story that proves marketing’s ROI. What got us here is not going to get us there, which is why we are making the case for brand investment. 

CN. How do you partner with other internal business units and teams to unlock new opportunities for driving growth, and how has this evolved in recent years?   

TM: T. Rowe Price is a global organization, so sitting within that global distribution organization is essential.   

When partnering with my sales organization, I’ll start by standing up with the sales management team and collaborating on initiatives such as lead management, product marketing and positioning, and RFP management as just a few examples. Cross-functional leadership is crucial not just for marketing but to deliver better business outcomes that truly meet the needs of our customers.  

CN: In our research, we found that effective marketers work to build modern marketing organizations and experiment to win. Do you have any examples you can share where you’ve been able to implement these two principles effectively?   

TM: At T. Rowe Price, every part of marketing is in a constant state of transformation, which is why the principle “experiment to win” resonates with me. We have many opportunities and playgrounds where we can test and learn new strategies and techniques, and our team’s new talent has upgraded our approach to experimentation.   

In terms of building a modern marketing organization, getting your operating model is critical. It is vital to take an integrated approach to the operating model. This is why it’s crucial to be a “T-shaped marketer” who can play a more fluid and integrated role within your organization. To build an integrated marketing org, about two-thirds of our team sit in the center, but a third sits in the business, so we avoid operating in silos and get greater connection points to move our marketing agenda forward with the buy-in from other functional leads.  

In my role, I often see myself as more than just the global head of marketing.  In addition to being responsible for marketing, I need to think about CX, talent, digital, sales, and lead generation – it’s true capital marketing. My role is often that of an integrator, and to do that successfully, I need to convince other functional leads – who aren’t marketers — to find points of collaboration. I often approach this like I would a marketing campaign. It’s all about creating seamless experiences that put the customer at the center of everything we do. 

About Chiaki Nishino  

Chiaki Nishino is Prophet’s president and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. In addition to leading Prophet’s North American business strategy, she oversees the organization’s global Women in Leadership and Diversity efforts. She brings extensive experience in growth strategy, customer experience, brand strategy and marketing. She’s led clients in financial services, communication and healthcare to new avenues of expansion. And she’s an industry leader in customer engagement and marketing accountability, having spoken at the Conference Board and the Association of National Advertisers. Before joining Prophet, Chiaki was a Partner at Lippincott Mercer, and worked at Mercer Management Consulting and Dell Computers. Are you interested in talking to Chiaki? You can contact her here.


In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.


Leaning into Leadership: A Conversation with Chiaki Nishino

I’m constantly inspired and impressed by the next interviewee in my Leaning Into Leadership blog series. She is talented in always seeing the bigger picture, connecting the dots and connecting people. She is intentional about how she spends her time and prioritizes her day, and it truly shows in how she gets things done but also in how she clearly communicates with others. She’s a learner and gleans lessons from her many experiences and interactions and makes sure to share them with others. You can learn a lot from Chiaki Nishino, president of Prophet. (I know I do all the time!) Hope you enjoy getting to know Chiaki! 

Amanda Nizzere:  What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something? 

Chiaki Jin Nishino:  I’m President of Prophet, and I think of my role as threefold. First is, running the North American business. People can come to me for anything on revenue, cost, talent, operational aspects of the business if it affects the way we work to deliver outcome, or if there are ways to enhance how we run the business. As President, what I feel most responsible for is not just tapping into my expertise, but connecting the dots across the expertise areas that we have within Prophet. Next, I do a lot of client service because my background is in customer-centric growth strategy. And finally, I sponsor the DEI effort at Prophet and that’s an important part of my role, both personally, in running the business, and with regard to my client work. All three aspects tie together in my mind. 

AN:  What energizes you with all of those different hats? 

CN: No question it’s the different teams that I get to interact with. I think the great thing about the way we’ve grown over the years at Prophet is that we’re very interdisciplinary. That wasn’t the case when I first joined the firm, and I don’t mean that just from the client-delivery side, but across the firm as well. We have so many people with different types of expertise, whether it’s on the operational or client service side.  

AN: What is your go-to productivity hack? 

CN: I don’t know if it’s a hack as it sounds so basic…!  But I keep a to-do list because it keeps me organized. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll bold the things that I know I must get done and then un-bold the ones where I know I have a little bit of time. Ticking off each of them makes me feel productive and gives me a sense of accomplishment. 

AN: Has anyone influenced you when it comes to how you approach your work or your working style? 

CN: There’s no one singular person who’s influenced me, and that might have to do with the fact that there weren’t a lot of female leaders as I was moving up in my career. I’ve had such great male bosses and people around me over the years that I’ve had the opportunity to pull different aspects of how they work and then integrate them into my own style. I learned how to engage clients from one set of people, and ways to engage with teams from others. I would say it’s an amalgamation of everyone that I worked with, from when I was an analyst, all the way up to my leaders and colleagues at Prophet.  

AN: Is there a specific way you start and end your day? 

CJN: My preference is to start my day at least a half hour before my meetings – look at the calendar and say, “Okay, what’s the most important thing I really need to make sure gets done today?” It helps me focus and gets me grounded for the day, and importantly with a cup of Earl Gray tea in hand.  Then I end the day, scanning the emails and Teams to make sure I haven’t missed urgent asks from teams or to-dos because the last thing I want to do is to be not responsive to team members I work with. 

AN: What mistake did you make early on in your career and what did you learn from it? 

CJN: When I was an analyst, I put my all into everything I did or whatever a partner asked me to do. I didn’t push back on things that I was asked to do or the hours that I was expected to work. At one point that almost drove me away from the consulting business because I was working long hours and holidays with a bad boss. I was so tired, and I didn’t deliver the output that I could have if I wasn’t so exhausted. I nearly quit, but my advisor asked me to do one more project so I could try to deliver my best before giving up on consulting. I’m glad he did because I wouldn’t be here today without that guidance.  

This wasn’t about putting extra hours in with partners who cared about teams – I didn’t mind at all and in fact, putting in that extra effort allowed me to learn and get good at this business. It was more about putting a sanity lens on whether what I was doing was adding value in the right way or if I was delivering the best work.  The experience helped me understand that it’s ok to pause if you think something isn’t feeling right and get advice from people around you to check your gut and see if you’re thinking about it the right way or not. Since then, I’ve always trusted people to go to and get that helpful outsider perspective. Have those go-to trusted people to get an objective perspective. 

AN: If you could snap your fingers to become an expert in anything, what would it be? 

CJN: I would learn to play the piano. Music isn’t something that my parents prioritized. My husband’s parents did, so both my kids started playing the piano when they were young. It’s such a wonderful skill to have.  

AN: Is there one thing people don’t know about you?  

CJN: I grew up doing origami as a way to make friends when I first came to the United States because I couldn’t speak English. As a third grader, the only way to make friends was to do something that would interest other kids because I couldn’t actually talk to them. My mom told me I should use origami to get to know people. Not only did it help me make friends, but it became a mode of relaxation for me as well.  I usually have a pack of origami paper on my desk or in my bag. 

Starting with this interview, I’m introducing a new series of Rapid Fire questions below. The interviewees did not see these in advance and had only a few seconds to think about their responses. Enjoy! 

Rapid Fire

  • How are you uncommon? I love connecting with people and connecting people to each other.  
  • What’s your favorite day of the year, and why? January 1 because it always feels like a fresh, new start. I’m usually in Japan every year at that time, so we go to a shrine, and we pray for a good year.  
  • What’s your favorite place in the world? Wherever home is. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and I could pick many locations that I’ve loved along the way, but I think it’s wherever home is. I’m a proud homebody. 
  • What is one thing in business that no one is talking about, but should? Relationship building – especially in new hybrid environments.  I don’t know that we’re talking enough about the type of relationships that you should be building within and across levels and functions. It’s an important discussion in this new working reality we’re all trying to navigate.  
  • What charitable organizations or initiatives do you support? I’ve spent a lot of time at a boys’ summer camp, Mowglis, in New Hampshire. My husband went there as a kid and both of my boys have gone. Initially, I had a hard time saying yes as it’s a seven-week sleepaway camp in New Hampshire, but my kids loved it so much, that they’ve gone every year since they were 7 years old.  I formed a mom’s group there years ago when my first son initially started in order to meet other moms and caretakers and answer questions they may have – that’s different from having an alumnus of the camp like my husband answer them. I still do that, so that’s been something that I’ve spent more time on outside of work.  
  • What is one wish that you have for the future? That our kids can grow up in an environment that feels safe. It’s been so top of mind for me this year and with my oldest son away now at college. Safety for our children is #1.   

About the Series  

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences, and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues, and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.   

See other Leaning Into Leadership articles here.


Chiaki is Prophet’s President and runs the company’s North American business. Chiaki is also a member of Prophet’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Her extensive experience in strategy consulting has helped clients in financial services, communication and healthcare industries to achieve new levels of growth. Interested in talking to Chiaki? Contact her here.


Powering Sustainable Growth with Your Brand Engine

The most relevant brands require ongoing maintenance. Prophet’s Brand Engine Model outlines the five levers needed to drive growth.

During a recent assignment for a global automaker, a non-marketer on the client team pulled me aside. A little embarrassed, he asked, “What even is a brand and why does it matter?” Our side conversation spiraled. Is an NFT a brand? A religion? How about IP? Heck, can a person really be a brand? It took me a minute, but I finally got his deeper question: How does brand building lead to growth? 

It’s a question we all – consultants and clients alike – should consider more often. We know brands are valuable, if intangible, assets. While the value of a brand fluctuates by industry, there is no question that it has value. Brand value is calculated in the accounting of every merger and acquisition. While estimating these values is an industry unto itself, we know value derives from many elements – from the organization’s highest leaders to consumers’ interactions and experiences. Brands are valuable because they are a short-cut, a promise– representing a set of functional and emotional expectations. The value of the brand reflects complex understandings, strategies, symbols, and beliefs. 

Most companies understand brand value needs to be nurtured and protected. They are aware of what’s at risk. For most successful organizations, however, a brand is not just an asset. It’s also an engine of growth, powering the next horizon of success.  

For the past eight years, Prophet has surveyed thousands of consumers in our annual brand relevance study to understand which brands are most relevant to their lives. Our research has shown that the most relevant brands, have found ways to build customer loyalty, and ultimately drive more growth. The top-performing brands in our study, have outperformed the S&P 500 by 201% in the last five years.   

To quantify how brands build relevance, we used this research and our years of experience building brands to develop a Brand Engine Model which is powered by five critical components. It’s clear that brand is a critical driver of growth, and all organizations should be constantly building, nurturing and refining their brands or risk losing relevance with their customers. While marketing is often responsible for owning brand, it should not be overlooked across the C-suite as a crucial component towards supporting the business reach its revenue goals.  

Prophet’s Brand Engine Model 

Prophet’s Brand Engine Model
(See full-sized version in your browser)

Building a Powerful Brand Engine 

Ambition: Who are we?  

All engines start with a spark. For brands, that spark is ambition, defining the organizational purpose and role of the brand in value creation. Patagonia’s inimitable “Earth is our only shareholder” commitment sets a high bar. However, businesses as diverse as Nike, USAA and LEGO answer that question in ways that make people’s hearts soar. Every brand must have a well-defined purpose that sets it apart and gives all its stakeholders – customers, employees and shareholders – something to believe. 

Ambition supplies the instructions required to set the engine in motion. Without it, wheels spin, and brands lurch along, but with no velocity.  

Remember my client’s question about whether a person can be a brand? If that were true, that person would clarify ambition by asking, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  

To set the agenda for ambition, companies need to ask:  

  1. What is our core belief that guides and inspires our actions? 
  2. What needs are we serving in people’s lives? 
  3. What business are we in and how might the brand allow the business to execute on our corporate strategy? 

Ecosystem: Where do we exist?   

The Ecosystem does more than define a frame of reference. It requires a deep understanding of how the brand fits into people’s lives. For both B2B and B2C brands, the ecosystem helps define the competitive landscape. Having a well-articulated ecosystem not only creates a sandbox for brands to own and operate, it also provides an opportunity for strategic and innovative partnerships. Whether it’s Peloton moving into Hilton properties, Calm app paying mental-health fines for tennis players, Gucci partnering with Oura rings or a Spotify playlist following passengers into an Uber, the opportunity for productive partnerships often leads to new revenue streams. 

Ecosystems also function as powerful collaborative areas for companies to build on their employer brand, engaging employees in ways that keep them curious. Google, for example, has famously encouraged its people to devote 20% of their work time to projects in their personal areas of interest. That way, the brand constantly re-invites employees into its incubator-esque way of thinking. 

To set the context for ecosystem, companies need to ask:  

  1. What is the context in which a consumer experiences a brand (e.g., depending on pre-existing biases, situational relevance, or physical environment)?  
  2. How does the brand(s) fit into consumers’ lives, relative to the other brands that they regularly interact with?  
  3. How should we organize our own architecture and relationships to optimize navigation, understanding, and brand equity building?  
  4. What brands do we want to be associated with (e.g., deliberate partnerships or inadvertent association)? 

Expression: How do we show up?  

To many, this component is classic branding. It tells a powerful story through an authentic, cohesive look, sound and feel. It is a way to create excitement across touchpoints. And it includes all the more common things associated with branding, from logo to commercial to content. Of all the engine components, it is often the most closely bound to strategy. While Apple and BMW do many things right, they are routinely flawless in this dimension. 

While this component feels classic, its importance should not be overlooked. When heritage brands refresh their visual identities it’s big news. Consumers and employees find comfort and build attachments to brands they feel deep loyalty to. From UGG to JetBlue, we’ve seen brands maneuver expression both expertly and not so expertly.   

To align a path forward for expression, companies need to ask:  

  1. How do we use our visual identity, voice, messaging strategy, and other signature stories to tap into the underlying human truths/emotions from our Ambition? 
  2. How might we use our visual identity, voice & messaging, and other stories to drive awareness, interest, and engagement? 
  3. How can, and should, we feel and sound distinct in-market to stand out from competitive brands and drive an ownable position? 

Experience: How do we engage?  

At every touchpoint, even if it’s beyond a company’s control, people form a perception of the brand. Experiences can deliver unique moments, using those perceptions to deepen relationships. 

Companies have come a long way in acknowledging the importance of experience but continue to under-invest in it. That neglect shows. One major study shows customer experience is plummeting, falling 20% last year. And one in five companies says they plan to eliminate CX.  

The best brands constantly think of both the owned and the un-owned touchpoints, curing problems and allowing the brand to flourish. UGG, for example, leans hard on diverse influencers with activations at music and film festivals. Lululemon creates thousands of store-as-community-hub events, partners with meditation organizations and hosts women-friendly road races. Jeep owners love the tradition of the `Jeep Wave,’ enthusiastically calculating their place in the ranking hierarchy before flashing the sign. 

To set the stage for experience, companies need to ask:  

  1. How should the experiences that we design make our customers or users feel (e.g., de-cluttered, inspired, appreciated), in a way that ties back to our core human truths defined in Ambition? 
  2. How can we make the lives of our customers/users easier? 
  3. How might our set of experiences serve as a revenue platform through efficient, digital-first channels?  
  4. How might these service channels drive long-term loyalty and stickiness? 

Intelligence and Measurement: Are we moving in the right direction?  

More than ever, marketers are being asked to prove their value and show business results. Applying intelligence and measurement allows for demonstrating success but it also enables quick optimizations to deliver better outcomes. It keeps the finger on the pulse of audiences. Virtually all marketers know this, yet many don’t yet have the tools and capabilities in place to harness their data to maximize output.  

Companies that spend the most on measurement and insights are among the world’s fastest-growing. Dove, for example, owned by Unilever, never stops mining its years of social-media success for insights about core users. Its latest hit is the #TurnYourBack campaign, encouraging people to shun TikTok’s unrealistic beauty standards, earning close to 800 million impressions. 

And McDonald’s extensive investments in ongoing customer research shape every menu tweak and new promotion, following people’s fast-changing perspectives on everything from which beef is healthiest, plant-based alternatives and Grimace’s return to glory. 

To set the limits for intelligence and measurement, companies need to ask:  

  1. What equities does our brand have with audiences, and how have these shifted?  
  2. How well are we serving their emotional and functional needs? 
  3. How are different parts of our business performing and how might our brand better serve our engagement and customers? 

Ultimately, the quality of execution across all five components drives brand value, transformation and growth. But no two engines are the same. Some brands might invest more resources in expression, others in experience. Pepsi isn’t the same as Pinterest. But a carefully calibrated brand engine can change gears as context shifts and unforeseen events happen. And with equilibrium, brands grow into de-risked, agile engines of growth.  


Every brand is an engine. When companies are willing to turn them on, fine-tuning and optimizing as they go, they move into the fast lane. They gain traction, passing competitors. They become an explosive source of uncommon growth and transformation. 

To learn more about creating relevant brands that drive growth, contact our team today. 


Building Human-Centered Brand Relevance Is Key to the Success of B2B Companies: A Case Study of G7 Connect 

How can B2B brands create relevance by appealing to both the “head” and the “heart” of consumers? 

Since 2016, Prophet has released our annual report brand relevance report, The 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report to understand how brands become indispensable and stand the test of time by being relentlessly relevant. This year, we surveyed 11,500 consumers and found that brand relevance has become more important than ever. For the first time since the pandemic, consumers are prioritizing “heart-hitting” attributes in brands and are more willing to engage with brands that offer meaningful connections. This is a notable shift from prioritizing attributes that appeal more to their “head”, such as functional factors and cost-effectiveness. Both categories remain important and the most relevant brands find ways to win with both.   

When helping clients strengthen their brand relevance, we often hear the question, “What role do ‘head’ and ‘heart’ attributes play in building brands across different industries? Are ‘heart’ attributes less important for B2B companies as they are not directly engaged with end consumers?” This is a common pitfall. Indeed when catering to different customers, companies should take tailored approaches to building brand relevance. However, both “head” and “heart” attributes should hold equal significance for all companies, regardless of whether they are B2B or B2C.  

In this article, we highlight a recent client story of how we helped to build a B2B brand to create relevance by appealing to both the “head” and the “heart.” 

G7 Connect: The Hidden Hero in Road Freight 

Today’s consumers are accustomed to the convenience of online shopping and modern logistics, thanks to the advancement of digital technologies. However, express delivery is just a small part of the logistics industry, of which every aspect has yet to be transformed digitally. “Sweat logistics” is a term often used to describe freight, the most conventional business model in the industry that still dominates the bottom of the logistics food chain. It is a sector burdened by overloaded trucks, sleep-deprived drivers and inefficient management and processes. Many freight operators lack a clear understanding of how digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and SaaS can benefit the logistics business. 

G7 Connect is a leader in IoT SaaS technologies for road freight in China. For 28 years, it has been committed to advancing China’s entire logistics industry through technological innovations based on IoT, big data and AI. As a B2B company, G7 Connect caters to a wide group of audiences with extremely different backgrounds and needs, from regular truckers to small-to-medium-sized freight operators and senior executives of key consignors. For truckers, their needs are quite simple – they hope to drive safely every day and be paid fairly for their work. For shipping companies and freight operators, they need to consider the safety of their people, vehicles and goods; they care about reducing costs and improving efficiency across each aspect and look forward to unleashing higher productivity through new technologies. For business leaders at consignors, they wish to strengthen their control over the logistics process like warehousing and freight. 

Rooted in “Head” and Inspired by “Heart” – Building Brand Relevance That Speaks to Diverse Audiences  

Our biggest challenge when developing the brand strategy for G7 Connect was balancing the expectations of its different audiences – it was crucial to highlight the value that IoT SaaS technologies can bring in a simplistic and intuitive way. In this regard, appealing to the “heart” is just as critical as the “head”. As G7 Connect’s customers come from different professions and backgrounds, they also have distinctively unique functional needs (“head” attributes). However, each customer is a human first and foremost – a living participant in the logistics industry. Therefore, it is easier for us to identify their shared emotional needs (“heart” attributes). 

Through a human-centered approach, the Prophet team conducted extensive interviews with G7 Connect’s different customer groups and its customer-facing employees to better understand their needs and expectations. Based on our findings, we developed a refreshed brand purpose to appeal to its customers’ hearts. We created an impactful brand tagline, “Beautiful change happens now” to encapsulate G7 Connect’s commitment to continuously creating positive changes for all industry participants through digital technology. Moreover, we further clarified the core competitive strengths of G7 Connect’s offerings and capabilities as brand principles, reinforcing its differentiated advantages through “head” attributes. 

G7 Connect officially launched its new brand strategy and identity in the spring of 2023. Since then, a range of brand implementation initiatives have been quickly put in place. For example, the company’s annual “advanced freight operator conference” was given a universally resonating theme, “Connecting the Beautiful”. The conference also focused on deepening the understanding of G7 Connect’s core functional strengths by highlighting many of its leading products, from visible processes, refined cost management and secure algorithms to external partnerships. Moreover, by showcasing warm, authentic client stories rich with photography and testimonials throughout its communications, G7 Connect has demonstrated how it is delivering “beautiful changes” to every industry participant through comprehensive digital logistics products and services. 


For B2B brands, the power of appealing to the “heart” should not be underestimated. By creating an authentic brand purpose anchored on shared emotional needs, companies can strike chords and create connections with vast audiences in a more intuitive way. When the brand resonates with its customers, they will be more interested in learning what the brand offers and why it is better, thus eventually deepening their trust in the brand’s functional benefits (“head” attributes) as well. 


Elevate Your Market Segmentation Approach with Demand-to-Growth Landscape: Three Strategic Examples 

Learn how Prophet’s Demand-to-Growth Landscape can help inform strategic decisions across portfolio, brand and product levels.  

For consumer brands, China remains one of the most attractive lands of opportunities, despite the disruption from the pandemic. The rise of a huge middle class with enormous spending power makes the market a must-win, but not necessarily an easy one. Different generations of consumers are developing vastly diverse lifestyles, needs and preferences, and competition between local and international, startup and traditional companies is increasingly intense. Regional differences require highly nuanced go-to-market strategies beyond adapting to the local digital ecosystems.   

To navigate this environment effectively, companies need to answer two fundamental questions: Where should they play to unlock growth? And how can they win with differentiated and relevant value propositions? These seemingly straightforward questions can be daunting as they require careful and holistic considerations regarding the entire business – how to structurally define consumer opportunities with so many forces and fast-moving trends at play? How to drive organizational alignment around key growth spaces? How to develop a high-level strategy with concrete actions across brand, product and channel execution? 

Introducing Demand-to-Growth Landscape 

At Prophet, we partner with leading consumer brands to answer these strategic questions through a comprehensive analytic method called the Demand-to-Growth Landscape. In a nutshell, Demand-to-Growth Landscape is a systematic study that examines the key dimensions (e.g., consumer segments, consumption occasions, etc.) influencing consumer demand for a certain category. By drawing a map with these dimensions, we define and synthesize consumer growth spaces, and thus blend value lenses and consumer lenses to decode each opportunity.   

There is no one universal formula for how companies should utilize the Demand-to-Growth Landscape. However, those that succeed often follow three best practices. 

1. Customize the map.

Although consumer segments and consumption occasions are commonly used, particularly by companies in the consumer packaged goods category as key dimensions to build the Demand-to-Growth Landscape, companies have to think through what works best for their category and the intended usage of the tool. For instance, price tier can be applied as a dimension for the fashion category as it’s often a key factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

2. Enrich with human insights.

While the quantitative study is helpful for identifying and profiling growth spaces, companies will benefit from deep listening to gain a thorough understanding of their consumers’ motivations and experiences to inspire actions. 

3. Create and sustain competitive superiority.

Once companies have decided which growth spaces to focus on, they have to build a competitive advantage. They can learn from the Superiority Model, initially developed by P&G, to define the most critical levers for their category, and be diligent in applying the framework to guide actions and track results.   

Source: Proctor & Gamble

How Your Company Should Utilize the Demand-to-Growth Landscape for Different Strategic Objectives 

The Demand-to-Growth Landscape can help inform strategic decisions across portfolio, brand and product levels. Below, we outline three tried-and-true applications of the approach, each with a client story to illustrate how it can positively impact the business. 

Develop Brand Portfolio Strategy  

Demand-to-Growth Landscape provides foundational insights for developing a brand portfolio strategy. Leaders who oversee large portfolios should ask: 

  • Which are the growth spaces to prioritize?  
  • How many brands are required to win these spaces?  
  • What is the role of each brand?  
  • Is there any opportunity to rationalize the portfolio or tap into white space?  

Our work with sportswear and lifestyle group 

Our client is a global leader in sports and lifestyle products with a diverse range of apparel, footwear, accessories, and equipment. Its business needed to scale but was facing difficulty, as several of its brands were playing on top of each other.  

Source: Unsplash

Prophet was engaged to help the client gain a better understanding of its key global markets, including China and the US, and provide strategic recommendations for go-to-market actions. We started by uncovering eight consumer segments, which were prioritized based on spending power, category engagement and brand perceptions. We then built a Demand-to-Growth Landscape based on these consumer segments and occasions, highlighting growth spaces to expand the business with the current portfolio of brands. To tease apart the individual brands’ growth strategies, Prophet defined clear swim lanes on the landscape, aligning on “centers of gravity” for each brand to prioritize investment and brand building.  

Define Brand Target and Positioning 

Demand-to-Growth Landscape offers critical consumer insights to help inspire a unique brand positioning. CMOs seeking to elevate their brands should ask:  

  • Who are the consumers in the target growth space?  
  • What do these consumers need the most, and how can my brand connect with them?  
  • What are the functional benefits required to support the emotional value?  

Our work with a leading CPG company 

Our client, a global food and beverage giant, sought our expertise to help reposition one of its key brands following a successful collaboration on its China brand portfolio strategy. In recent years, the brand has become staler, facing challenges in attracting young consumers.  

Source: Unsplash

To reinforce the brand strategy, we thoroughly examined the previously established Demand-to-Growth Landscape data in order to identify the most critical consumers within the brand’s target growth space. We delved into demographics, including age group and city tier, as well as their life motivations and category attitudes and behaviors. Additionally, we conducted deep listening research to capture micro-stories that brought the brand muse to life. Leveraging these insights, we identified a potent brand positioning territory that deeply resonated with the younger generation’s yearning for genuine connections, especially within the home environment following the pandemic. 

Identify Product Portfolio Opportunities 

By combining Demand-to-Growth Landscape with Superiority assessment, businesses can gain valuable insights to uncover product opportunities. Marketers who own a vast product portfolio should ask: 

  • Where does the brand have potential product gaps on the demand landscape? 
  • Where do the brand’s existing products fall short compared to competitors? 
  • Where does the brand have competitive products but need to improve its messaging or product availability? 

Our work with a leading apparel company 

Prophet was appointed by a leading apparel and footwear company to accelerate its transformation from a product-driven to a consumer-centric approach to its brand strategy in China. The company had diverse products, each with functional benefits, however, they often overlapped and lacked a distinctive focus in messaging.  

Source: Unsplash

Through the Demand-to-Growth Landscape approach, we delineated each growth space based on opportunity size, price tier, consumer profile and goals, and desired product drivers. Subsequently, we collaborated with the client’s product experts to objectively map their product portfolio and those of key competitors onto the landscape, conducting a thorough Superiority assessment. This exercise enabled the client’s senior leadership team to achieve alignment and make commitments to a series of product growth initiatives, bringing confidence to revitalize their growth momentum. 


With increasingly fragmented consumer segments and intense competition, companies need to continuously evaluate their priority growth spaces and evolve value propositions to stay relevant. Prophet’s Demand-to-Growth Landscape approach helps leaders navigate these challenges in a systematic yet nuanced way beyond traditional consumer segmentation. Through different use cases, the Demand-to-Growth Landscape can provide indispensable insights into strategic decisions. 


Catalysts: How to Build an Adaptable Organization that Thrives During Uncertainty

Prophet’s 2023 Catalyst research highlights how companies can thrive despite disruption, stay on course for long-term transformation and turn change into a strategic advantage. 

The turbulence and upheaval of the last few years have become routine. That’s good since many believe this era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity is here to stay. Business leaders should pay close attention to the post-pandemic twist on Darwin’s law. 

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; but the species that is best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment which it finds itself.

Charles Darwin 

Recent disruptions have proved that while some companies are already impressively agile, many aren’t. Many larger businesses have spent the last few years lurching from one crisis to another, relying on limited moves torn from old playbooks.  

This article – the first in a series – is based on interviews with senior leaders and is focused on how enterprises can tap into variety, building organizational flexibility.  

Our respondents detailed their successes and setbacks, and ultimately illuminated five critical principles for creating adaptability at multiple speeds during this critical moment in time.  

Defining Adaptability in a Post-Pandemic World 

At Prophet, we define “adaptability” as the ability to anticipate and respond to opportunities created by a shifting market. And we define “at multiple speeds” across three horizons.  

Something that separates humans from other animals is the ability to plan ahead and imagine multiple potential futures. In modern life, we do this quite naturally:  

  • What’s for dinner tonight?  
  • Where might we take the family on vacation this year?  
  • When can I retire, and how much must I save?  

Here are just a few ways our respondents are anticipating and responding to uncertainty across these three key horizons.  

Optimizing for Today 

Our respondents are evolving operating models to deliver the current portfolio of products and services to the same customers. They are organizing resources to increase customer satisfaction and profitability. And they are hunting for efficiencies, like centralizing or outsourcing back-office functions for greater scale or lower costs. 

Innovating for Tomorrow  

Planning within medium-range windows includes expanding product and service portfolios or reaching out to adjacent target customers. And while many of our respondents may be leveraging brand relevance to expand into new categories and integrate new capabilities, it’s still happening within the boundaries of the existing business model. 

Building the Future  

To build for the future, our respondents are transforming their business models and fundamentally changing how the business makes money and creates value for customers. It’s a seismic shift, like Netflix’s move from mail-order DVD business to a content studio. 

Five Ways to Build Adaptive Organizations 

Our research led to five key strategies to enhance adaptability and create future-ready, resilient organizations.  

1. Put Purpose to Work  

Purpose-driven branding has been part of the corporate playbook for over a decade. Yet the definition and expression of that purpose keep gaining importance. Customers increasingly demand that companies stand for something, and people insist employers care about more than money. They won’t settle for a slogan on a wall or some fluffy catchphrase dreamed up at an executive retreat. It must mean something. 

Like human DNA, an organization’s purpose is fixed. “To operate in an environment filled with uncertainty, you have to create stability in other ways,” says Kris Ahrend, chief executive officer of the Mechanical Licensing Collective, a nonprofit focused on streaming royalty distribution. “Our culture is what gives us stability.” 

But while purpose may be steadfast, it can still be leveraged differently and more effectively, filtering throughout an organization’s activities. That way, it can provide renewed focus, guiding decisions and strategies. 

“Our purpose is always at the root of our decisions for what to do next and why,” says an executive at a large banking company. “We never take our eyes off why we’re here as an organization.” 

2. Gain Control by Letting Go 

Decentralizing governance can feel counterintuitive in these turbulent times. “We’re all moving forward wishing we had a crystal ball,” one human resources executive says. “Between the war in Europe, pandemic recovery, economic instability, and return to office policy, everything feels more uncertain.” 

But respondents feel strongly that this uncertainty is what makes pushing decision rights down even more important. Many wish they’d worked harder for this change in the past.  

Decentralization lets those closest to customers and operating problems make better and faster decisions. “It’s not just about tactical changes,” says Danielle Clark, a talent executive at eBay. “We have to address the underlying behaviors that enable leaders to step back and lead differently. It requires trust and a greater appetite for thinking boldly.” 

3. Lower the Cost of Experimentation 

Adaptability requires innovation. And innovation, by definition, involves failure. Organizations must have realistic conversations and processes about what that means and what those failures might cost, especially in an uncertain economy. It’s easy to invest in experimentation when business is good. But experimentation is too often a prime target for budget cuts when revenue gets tight.  

“To be truly resilient, your organization must practice failing,” says one tech executive. “This is supported by a culture that encourages fast and safe failure with risk mitigation measures in place, so resiliency is exercised regularly.” 

4. Reinvest to Realign  

Aligning new strategies with existing structures is often challenging, especially for big companies that typically overinvest in growth areas during prosperous times and overcorrect in culling these growth areas during times of economic uncertainty.  

Over the last year, we’ve seen this pattern emerge within the technology industry, resulting in a hemorrhage of talent, confusing investors and disappointed customers. These massive gaps between their current structure and new strategy inhibit growth.  

The companies that overcome this risk and protect their business from boom-and-bust cycles are the ones creating agile operating models and continuously aligning structure with strategy.  

It is critical that business leaders get crystal clear about what the organization will not do going forward. “We have a strong understanding of who we are at our core,” says eBay’s Clark. “The work over the past few years has been to innovate boldly to maintain relevance while delivering with impact. This has led to our focused category strategy.” 

5. Embrace the Next Wave of Digital Transformation 

Digital transformation continues to reshape how industries operate and deliver value to customers. The recent explosion in AI makes automation more accessible than ever before and will usher in the next generation of digital transformation.  

Best-in-class organizations embrace new technology to innovate the customer experience and streamline operations. They are using it to redefine systems, making work and life better. Rather than fearing it, they’re upskilling employees to work with these innovations, finding ways to drive a better business outcome.  

“We are asking questions about the business and people benefits,” says Jane Jin, a vice president at Takeda, a multinational pharmaceutical company. “What productivity might we gain when using these technologies? How might we develop our people so they continue to bring value to the company if technologies automate some of their tasks? How do we innovate responsibly and remove bias? How do our values translate in this digital age?” 

With a leadership team determined to decide when and how to adopt new technologies proactively, companies can guarantee decisions that boost productivity and encourage growth while staying true to their DNA. 

If history is any guide, these companies will grow faster and have an outsized advantage in attracting talent. Those that don’t will fall further behind. 


As leaders grow increasingly comfortable with uncertainty, they’re hungry for strategies to build resilience and flexibility. In this series, we’ll explore why your company’s purpose needs to play a different role and how the most adaptive companies use their purpose to carve out compelling new business strategies.


Five Rules for Optimizing Omni-channel Clinical Care Models 

Building a human-centric healthcare organization that delivers on patients’ needs. 

With the pandemic increasingly in the rearview mirror, many healthcare organizations are coming to terms with the big and small changes that have become permanent parts of the healthcare landscape. Ushered in during the pandemic, omnichannel care delivery is now a fixture and will play an influential role for many years to come; that’s a good thing, as patients prefer having options and are often enthusiastic about new channels, technologies and treatments. More caregivers now see the value of omnichannel care, especially telehealth and in-home care, because they work so well for patients.    

In our recent work with clients, we’ve seen how different types of healthcare organizations can capitalize on leading practices for change and transformation as they seek to refine, optimize and expand their omnichannel clinical care models.  

The common denominator with healthcare leaders is human centricity. Organizations that successfully drive change design their care models around what patients want and need. Similarly, organizations that adopt a human-centered approach to transformation are more likely to succeed in winning hearts and minds, instilling new behaviors and changing the culture in sustainable ways.  

1. When transforming the clinical care model, start small and iterate fast. 

There are ample transformation opportunities across healthcare but organizations that take on too much change too fast are bound to struggle. The key is to focus on the achievable while understanding the distinct needs of underserved populations and addressing drivers of high cost. 

Organizing around a condition or a use case, rather than a service line, can be useful both for making progress and setting up for broader change over the long term. Breaking down big changes into manageable steps is the only way to go. For example, to redesign diabetes care, leaders will need first to address issues typically treated by primary care, endocrinologists and cardiologists, as well as supporting clinicians in nutrition and other related aspects of care.  

Our work with one national player confirmed how many patients with kidney failure “crash” into dialysis in an unplanned fashion when longitudinal care models can address the holistic needs of such patients. When Geisinger launched a home care program, it realized impressive results, including reduced ER visits and lower costs, largely due to its careful patient selection, a focus on chronic conditions and proactive outreach by care teams.   

Within value-based care models, better patient communication can increase HCAHPS scores, which directly impacts reimbursement. That’s a relatively small-bore change that can yield potentially big results. 

2. Recognize that every healthcare organization is also a software company. And an AI and data science firm, too.  

Whether or not they want to be, all types of healthcare companies are in the technology business – and we’re not referring exclusively to electronic medical records (EMRs). Software now underpins every step of the care delivery process and is essential to making the “anytime care from anywhere” vision a workable operational reality. And yet, there’s no denying that tech has contributed to significant burnout among healthcare workers, including physicians.  

Healthcare organizations would benefit from several tech innovations, including agile sprints and experience design principles, to continuously enhance features. Had EMRs been designed in this manner, they would more seamlessly fit into the clinical workflow and not contribute to provider burnout as they are today. Healthcare organizations can take a similar approach as they design omnichannel care delivery models and deploy new technology.  

Thinking like a service designer will help orchestrate the linkages between backstage systems and data sources and, ultimately, create a seamless experience for all types of users. Accommodating the needs of users with different levels of technology access and literacy – including both patients and caregivers – is the key to developing high-impact solutions. When designing a patient app for patients receiving home dialysis, we went through multiple rounds of design and user testing to ensure that the experience met patient needs in an intuitive way and delivered the right information at the right time. That’s how to empower – rather than overwhelm – users.  

Organizations must also change the perception, common after initial rollouts of EMR systems, that technology is the enemy. One way to overcome that persistent bias is to co-create solutions with patients, caregivers and providers. That’s what we did with a national player seeking to shift the site of care from clinics and inpatient settings to the home. Service designers worked directly with nurses and nurse practitioners who could speak empathetically to the day-to-day needs and challenges faced by home healthcare teams and provide feedback on initial design sketches. These foundational insights, as well as those from patient groups, guided the design of new tools.  

AI Goes Everywhere

There’s no talking about tech without talking about artificial intelligence (AI). AI seems to be taking over healthcare. Payers are using it to digitize claims, conduct audits and monitor payments. Clinically, AI is helping physicians scan X-rays and get ahead of emerging risks and adverse outcomes. Providers use AI to design care paths, personalize care coordination and model the financial impacts of different treatment plans. AI promises to revolutionize clinical trials in the pharmaceutical sector.  

Embedding AI-enabled technology deeply into care delivery processes can make routine tasks simpler, faster and safer. And it’s the most effective way to use technology as a “force multiplier” in delivering care, which is the primary motivation for many healthcare organizations that acquire technology companies. Technology that enables caregivers to do their jobs more effectively and operate at the top of their licenses is invaluable in a time of provider shortages. Equipping end-users (including physicians) with training, skills and knowledge to use the right tech at the right time is how tech can directly support better outcomes.  

That sort of human-centered approach is necessary to change minds, create advocates and smooth the transition as the organization evolves from being healthcare-centric to thinking and acting like tech, AI and data science companies.  

3. Transformation takes an ecosystem.  

Achieving ambitious change objectives will almost certainly require collaboration with others – including payers, specialty care providers, technology companies or other third parties. So finding the right partners is critical, even when focusing on a manageable, well-defined issue or opportunity.  

The massive complexity of healthcare – both as a business and in terms of delivering care – makes broad organizational buy-in an absolute imperative for effective transformation. Overlooking a key constituency can make the difference between success and failure.  

We define stakeholders as anyone playing a role in care or invested in its outcomes. Thus, the universe of stakeholders includes everyone from institutions (e.g., payers and large employers) to back-stage actors (e.g., hospital management, pharmacies) to front-line care providers (e.g., PCPs, specialists, therapists, care coordinators, social workers) and, of course, patients who must remain at the center. These stakeholders have wildly different incentives, hold different values and operate with different information and authority. 

The broadest ecosystems require teams to think like systems designers in working outward from the patient to the entire stakeholder ecosystem, including front-stage actors (e.g., caregivers, PCPs and specialists) and back-stage actors (e.g., care managers, pharmacists, hospitals, payers, regulators).  

Ecosystem design requires incorporating the needs and perspectives of many different stakeholders.  

All of these players have widely different incentives, hold different values and operate with different information and authority. Misalignment among ecosystem partners can manifest in systemic problems that reach deeper than any single touchpoint. When we design healthcare ecosystems, we apply such principles to understand current systems and envision those that will be necessary tomorrow. Design tools such as ecosystem and value exchange mapping are a critical part of incorporating the entire innovation ecosystem into specific solutions. 

Leveraging Internal Ecosystems

The most successful transformation programs also involve many different internal constituencies. One Fortune 500 healthcare organization seeking to disrupt renal care with increased use of in-home dialysis built a diverse, cross-functional team, including digital strategists, product teams, client nurses, nephrologists and other specialists, in its ideation process. It gathered ongoing input via iterative design and feedback sessions. The testing process of initial solutions involved 40+ external users, including patients, nurses and other caregivers and social workers.  

Organizations enacting large-scale strategic change often convene a leadership council for regular reviews and feedback. Typically, such groups include chief medical officers, clinical business unit leaders, medical specialists and senior operational and administrative leaders.  

4. Embrace regulation and payer mandates as inspiration for innovation.  

The expanding adoption of value-based care shows how regulatory requirements can prompt necessary change for organizations with creative leadership and high degrees of operational agility. By default, many leaders resist new rules and love to complain about old ones, which can lead to regulatory oversight being used as an excuse not to change.  

Federal regulators are certainly looking to foster innovation and prompt greater use of in-home dialysis via reimbursement changes in kidney care and other areas. The acute shortage of clinicians is another area where regulators are likely to be flexible in allowing healthcare organizations to experiment with new care delivery options. Consider how pandemic-era stop-gap measures to allow providers to practice telemedicine across state lines have remained in place. We believe the clinician shortage is an existential threat that must be at the forefront of the design of omnichannel care delivery models. Certainly, it will force provider organizations to automate more low-value tasks as they seek to expand their reach.  

Social determinants of health (SDoH) are also being incorporated into regulatory frameworks as their importance to health becomes clearer. Medicaid changes are more likely in the short term, with Medicare following suit in the long term. Organizations that are proactive in developing solutions – ideally in collaboration with regulators and other partners – will be positioned for future success.  

Working with a national provider organization to address the needs of diabetes patients, we focused on SDoH in determining how to shift the site of care to the home. Patients with mobility issues, those that lived in food deserts, or lacked reliable WiFi for remote diagnostics each required different design decisions. As innovation strategies more frequently intersect with regulatory requirements, we help clients think through the implications and find opportunities to streamline compliance processes as an outgrowth of experience design and technology development.  

5. You can’t change your clinical care model without changing your business model.     

This might be the hardest challenge in healthcare, because of the frequent tension between what’s good for patients and what’s good for the bottom line. In theory, clinical care organizations can find the financial backing to move to a more consumer-centric clinical care model in one of two ways:    

  • Improving patient loyalty and outcomes to become a recognized market leader or provider of choice, with the net effect of boosting both patient volumes and financial returns. 
  • Maximizing reimbursement for all kinds of clinical care services including those delivered outside the traditional clinic.    

We’ve found the first is a harder recipe for success and following it can lead to internal disbelief at best and barriers at worst. Financial incentives need to align with care incentives. Organizations that invest in transforming their care model should expect to realize financial rewards or at least figure out how to get paid for providing services that benefit patients.  

To make it happen, we have helped strong leaders think outside of existing markets to create new categories of care based on patient needs. To model the potential for a new home health business that a diversified healthcare giant was launching, we created a consensus view of existing service lines that could be brought together to meet patient needs in the home, from infusions, to telehealth, to diagnostics and monitoring. Here again, the key was getting stakeholders to collaborate and communicate in new ways.  


Is there a more human-centric industry than healthcare? With technology becoming ubiquitous in all forms of care delivery, it may seem an odd time to ask the question. But in our experience, healthcare organizations that master the human touch in both care delivery and designing and implementing their own transformation initiatives realize the best clinical and business outcomes.  


Celebrating Earth Awareness Month

From internal initiatives to a client panel focusing on sustainability, Prophet continued to build internal momentum on ESG.

Prophet celebrated Earth Awareness Month with a series of events to raise internal awareness and find measurable ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Throughout the month, Prophet’s global offices held shoe and clothing drives leading to an impressive number of items (600+) being donated to local organizations to help combat the growing number of textiles ending up in U.S. landfills (85% of all discarded clothing). Offices also participated in an informative, earth-month-themed trivia event. Prophet partner, Tosson El Noshokaty hosted an internal learning session on decarbonization and how we can apply this thinking to assist our clients. Finally, the capstone event was a panel discussion on sustainability with representatives from two Prophet clients, Cool Earth and Rainforest Partnership.  

About the Panelists

Cool Earth is a climate change charity that champions the relationship between people, rainforests, and climate. The organization gives cash directly to rainforest communities, to fund the root causes of deforestation, and protects vital carbon sinks. Cool Earth also aims to increase inclusion and connection to produce collaborative climate solutions across geographies. Through a series of working sessions and stakeholder interviews, Prophet co-created a revised set of corporate values and behaviors.  

Rainforest Partnership is an environmental organization working to conserve rainforests around the world. They work to create sustainable livelihoods in areas affected by deforestation, aim to increase biodiversity, and champion long-term forest protection by working directly with indigenous and local communities as guardians and economic participants. Prophet worked with Rainforest Partnership to redefine and activate new brand positioning and architecture framework. 

Client Panel Recap

Hannah Peck, deputy director, Magda Pieta, partnerships manager at Cool Earth and Niyanta Spelman, Founder and CEO of Rainforest Partnership joined Prophet for a moderated conversation that focused on everyday actions that we can do impact rainforest conservationism and sustainability. 

Four takeaways from the discussion: 

1. Avoiding inaction in the face of the staggering size of the climate crisis is incredibly important. 

“[We must] keep banging the drum and continue talking about it to get as many people on board as you can. There is no one magical thing that will fix it all. We need to make sure that we keep staying front and center in people’s attention and focus”

Magda Pieta, Cool Earth 

“[We should think through] how we can be an example. Grab a glass instead of grabbing a plastic bottle. Find what is the easiest for you to start doing and incorporate it into your home”

Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership

2. Even in the face of the current odds and predictions, we can still dream big.  

“Stabilizing the climate is this generations biggest challenge”

Hannah Peck, Cool Earth

“Can you imagine what we can do together? A world where 145 countries would actually write something down that they are going to end deforestation by 2030″

Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership

3. Every small change has a waterfall effect that can create real change, beyond just recycling, e.g., getting involved with World Rainforest Day or contacting local politician(s).  

Let’s [drive change] together. The sum of our parts is so much larger. Everyone can be an amplifier, no matter where you are in the world, what role you play, and whomever you know”

Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership

“One thing I recently realized I could change easily is where I bank, I can choose a more ethical bank… You can also write to your local politician about something you care about in your local environment to make an impact”

Hannah Peck, Cool Earth

4. When choosing what organizations to work with or donate to, it is pivotal to choose ones that are working in partnership with individuals on the ground.    

“Funding is almost always the biggest challenge for every rainforest conservation organization. The most impactful organizations are the ones that work closely on the ground. You should choose where you give money carefully and pick those that are the most impactful and work in partnership with communities”

Niyanta Spelman, Rainforest Partnership


While Earth Month may have ended, our conversations around climate and sustainability continue. We know it will take a coordinated effort between governments, institutions, businesses, and people all over the world to build a more sustainable future. Our Earth Month activities reiterated that the best way to tackle societal, economic, and environmental challenges is by working together.

Prophet has resources for helping business leaders create and implement a sustainability mindset. Learn more about our ESG offerings here. 


Why Do Only Some Social Media Brands Inspire?

Relentlessly relevant brands find ways to drive connection – see how social media brands are succeeding and struggling.

Each year Prophet surveys thousands of U.S. consumers about brands that are most relevant in their lives. The 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report shows the brand relevance of more than 250 brands using data from those familiar with them. Analyzing the results from different perspectives yields provocative findings. This year we decided to take a close look at seven of the major social media brands on the “makes me feel inspired” survey question. Many people are impacted by social media brands in some way on a daily basis. We also decided to dissect this angle in part because the pinnacle of a brand connection is to be inspiring. We found an interesting dichotomy. The brands either fell into a clear high or low inspiring grouping. 

Social Media Brands That Inspire 

The high group included YouTube and TikTok, which were in the top 8%, and Pinterest was in the top 1% in the sample of 257 brands. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp, in sharp contrast, were in the lowest 20%.   

Each brand has its own story, which is interesting and insightful. It is hard to generalize, but it seems true that the high group has coolness, momentum and a superior ability to gain engagement in competition with those in the low group. Let’s take a closer look. 

The inspiration level at Pinterest is amazing and worth exploring. Why? First, it is user personalized—content relevant to a person, for example, can be pinned to their own board. There are also niche communities so that ideas can be shared around common topics. Second, the experience is visual, easy to use and inspiring. The user gets to discover high-quality images and use a search tool to find others. Third, the experience is enriched by having e-commerce opportunities embedded. 

The characteristics of the other two high group members are of interest as well. TikTok has short-video content that satisfies people’s attention span and is entertaining, discoverable and sharable with the possibility that any one spot could go viral. It has a user-friendly interface with creative tools and effects to enhance and customize videos that attract top talent. YouTube is convenient, assessable, and has vast user-generated content all of which attracts content creators and audience members. It offers high-quality educational, novel, entertaining and provocative content which means every person will find something that appeals to them. The AI algorithm is advanced; you are served up content that you will like. 

Social Media Brands Lacking Inspiration 

The lower four brands are not judged in isolation. They can slip by simply being “not as good as” the big three. But individually they each have issues that are not easy to deal with. 

Facebook has been battling negative public perception with respect to privacy and misinformation, fake news, and generally harmful or inappropriate content. This has spread into the political realm and has been amplified by polarizing attitudes. For the younger audience, the appeal of alternatives is a factor. 

Twitter has a character limit that can be limiting next to alternatives and suggests a lack of content. It is associated with cyberbullying, trolling and frenetic overuse among the young. Twitter has also received critical media coverage for its acquisition by Elon Musk and his controversial views and his decision to sharply downsize the staff. 

Snapchat has an interface that is harder to use than competitors. It is aimed at younger users where TikTok has made inroads. While disappearing content has plusses, it can be inconvenient especially if it is the preferred social media vehicle for a person. Their story is interesting because Snapchat was a breakthrough brand at the time of launch (almost like a fad), but other social media brands have replicated their unique features making them easily replaceable and relevant among the core user base who now tend to prefer TikTok. 

Because WhatsApp was acquired by Meta, concerns about privacy, data sharing and the potential appearance of targeted advertising have become visible. It is dependent on an internet connection and requires a valid phone number, which some are uncomfortable giving up. Because of their end-to-end encryption, it can be hard to control false information. Finally, it can consume significant storage space on devices. However, even with these limitations, WhatsApp continues to be the most popular messaging app with more than 2 billion global users and may offer Meta an opportunity to reverse some of their negative in-market perceptions.  


Having a brand that inspires usually means that an exceptionally strong brand relationship has been established. Inspiration is associated with having momentum in the marketplace, an engaging offering that is unique, self-expressive benefits and an absence of negatives. Want to learn more about the most relevant brands in the U.S. Download the Relentlessly Relevant Brands report today. 


Winning Hearts and Minds in Financial Services: The Imperatives to Amplifying Purpose

Purpose isn’t a mere sales tactic; it’s how you forge deep trust with your organization’s stakeholders. 

In a world where trust in financial institutions is being shaken up and consumers have more options than ever, organizations must tap into their purpose to assure they can be counted on for more than high-quality products and services.  

As Prophet’s Vice Chairman David Aaker states in his latest book, “The new purpose-driven revolution is leading firms beyond a focus on growing sales, profits, and shareholder return to having a business purpose that does more.” This shift should come as no surprise given what we know about purpose’s powerful influence on business outcomes: Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.  

Research shows that purpose-related drivers rise to the top in motivating consumer choice – especially in financial services. Prophet’s 2023 Relentlessly Relevant Brands report found that consumers are shifting to brands that spark an emotional connection—reaching beyond functional needs. And we’re not the only ones tracking this trend: IBM and the National Retail Federation found that, for the first time, more consumers are driven by purpose than by value. 

But simply having a purpose does not move the needle. To effectively build trust and harness the power of purpose, organizations must amplify their purpose. It must be fully integrated into the business, showing up in key moments and being championed authentically by employees—otherwise, it’s just lip service that leaves consumers doubting that the organization truly delivers on its promises.  

In our research, we found there are four key imperatives financial services organizations must work toward to effectively amplify and deliver on their purpose: 

1. Have a clear and inspiring purpose. 

Taking the first step means clearly defining your organization’s purpose. It should be both authentic while also being aspirational, meaningful, and engaging for all relevant stakeholders (e.g., consumers, investors, and employees). Your organization’s purpose should be clear enough that it can be used as a locus for decision-making. Once it’s clearly defined, time and resources must be invested to socialize it internally. Employees should be able to not only understand your organization’s purpose, but easily reference and use it in their daily work.  

What this looks like: 

Edward Jones recently made a significant investment in defining their purpose, working to create an authentic, clear, and compelling North star for their organization. Beyond just crafting an inspiring purpose statement, they Identified clear purpose impact areas to focus their work. 

Edward Jones’ purpose is to “partner for positive impact by improving the lives of their clients and colleagues and bettering their communities and society.” They achieve this by focusing on three key areas: partnering for lasting financial strength, promoting healthier futures, and advancing inclusive growth.  

Questions you might ask about your organization’s purpose: 

  • Is it clearly defined? 
  • Is it relevant to key stakeholders? 
  • Is it clear enough to guide decision making? 
  • Do employees know it and understand how their role contributes to delivering against it? 

2. Own your purpose. 

Don’t outsource purpose through philanthropy. Instead, embed it across the organization and ways of working. Leaders at all levels should be taking actionable steps to integrate your organization’s purpose into everyday operations, making it easy for employees to action against it in their daily lives. Purpose should be inherent to each project and every team, not a siloed effort or initiative.  

What this looks like: 

FinTech Current’s purpose is to “create better financial outcomes for more people.” They don’t just talk about it—they deliver on it through their product. Believing that legacy banks constrain consumers, Current moves consumers forward by helping them make the most of what they have, specifically by removing all fees (minimum fees, overdraft fees, transfer fees, ATM fees, etc.), expediting direct deposits and simplifying saving through Savings Pods and Round-Ups. 

Questions you might ask about your organization’s purpose: 

  • Is it being outsourced (e.g., focused on delivery through philanthropic donations alone)? 
  • How is it being actioned against in day-to-day operations?
  • Are there metrics in place to measure progress as it relates to delivering on purpose?  

3. Build the capabilities to deliver on your purpose. 

Purpose must be engrained into your organization’s operating model, guiding each change and transformation. The operating model should be organized to hold leaders and teams accountable for delivering on purpose through incentives and business structures. Additionally, employees should be equipped with the right tools and skillsets to effectively live out the organization’s purpose.  

What this looks like: 

Mastercard’s purpose is “connecting everyone to priceless possibilities.” To help employees deliver on their purpose, Mastercard created a new compensation model that ties bonus calculations to the organization’s performance on purpose across three key areas: carbon neutrality, financial inclusion, and gender pay parity.   

Questions you might ask about your organization’s purpose: 

  • Are employees adequately incentivized to deliver on it? 
  • What tools and skills are needed to equip employees to deliver on it?  
  • Is it a central consideration in business decisions? 

4. Ensure that your purpose shows up in key moments. 

After establishing purpose as a foundational component to how your organization operates, it’s time for stakeholders to feel its impact. Employees, consumers, and investors should be able to experience your organization’s purpose firsthand—whether through communications, experiences or other touchpoints. When purpose shows up in key moments, internal and external stakeholders are inspired to join in, contribute and learn more.  

What this looks like: 

USAA’s purpose is to “empower members to achieve financial security through highly competitive products, exceptional service and trusted advice,” and “be the #1 choice for the military community and their families.” One way they bring this to life is through their annual Poppy Wall of Honor and other Memorial Day-related installations. Aligning closely with their purpose, USAA uses their Poppy Wall of Honor to help raise awareness of the true meaning of Memorial Day and provide visitors of the National Mall an opportunity to remember the service members who have died in service to our nation since World War I. Throughout the year, USAA’s Memorial Day microsite allows users to remember heroes, visit the virtual Poppy Wall and honor heroes through action.  

Questions you might ask yourself: 

  • How is it being activated with both internal and external stakeholders? 
  • How does it show up in the moments that matter for employees, investors and consumers? 


Simply put, financial services organizations must do more than just have a purpose to build trust with consumers. Recent shakeups across the Industry elevate the need for companies to put their purpose into action, amplifying it across all levels of the organization and creating a shared experience for all stakeholders alike.  

Contact us to learn more about how to develop and put an authenticate purpose Into action for your organization. organization’s purpose to life and put it into action. 

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