When it comes to business, too often we expect profitability to be the driver of satisfaction, and therefore of motivation. But this isn’t actually how it works. When we want people to be creative or to change, adapt, and innovate, profitability alone won’t motivate them to do that. These activities require a deep commitment, and if any part of us is not engaged, we won’t make that commitment.
This is why the first tenet of Intuitive Intelligence is the ability to think holistically; in other words, the ability to focus on value that goes beyond dollars and cents to include thing like integrity, honor, and meaning. The legendary retailer Hermès Paris is a case in point, Hermès is a luxury goods house specializing in leather, ready-to-wear apparel, lifestyle accessories, perfumery, and fashion. Its undisputed reputation as one of the most prestigious luxury companies in the world comes from a tradition of impeccable craftsmanship and a holistic approach to business. Established in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a saddle shop in Paris, Hermès today has fourteen product divisions, employs seven thousand people, and owns stores all around the world. Hermès reports a total billing of approximately two billion euros and a next profit margin of roughly 10 percent. The is a spectacular success. But what’s even more remarkable is that Jean-Louis Dumas, who was CEO of Hermès for twenty-eight year until 2006, always looked at Hermès in a holistic way. His vision for Hermès was inseparable from the three core pillars that define the brand.
First, using strategic skills, he envisioned Hermès as always ahead of consumer and market trends. Second, he called on Hermès’ creative skills to invent luxury goods of exceptional value that exceeded users’ expectations. Third, using keen management skills, he always stressed the fact that it was equally important to make sure that all Hermès products could feasibly be manufactured according to consistently outstanding quality standards. And fourth, emphasizing saleability, he determined that all goods produced had to be marketable, because Hermès is not about is not about objects of art for museums and galleries; it sells consumer good for the enjoyment of customers. This holistic approach, which was first articulated by Dumas for Hermès, has been enforced ever since because it has consistently ensured the integrity of the Hermès reputation.
Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.