Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Consistency is the Key to Quality Improvement in the Digital Age

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published May 12, 2016. 


The digital world, with its real-time customer feedback, the ability for consumers to share their positive and negative experiences with others, and customers with many competitive choices at their fingertips via their cellphones, even while shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store, make quality and customer satisfaction more important than ever.

But improvement in quality and customer satisfaction can only be accomplished with consistency of priority and strategy as opposed to a constantly-changing agenda and “program of the month.” Chaos is the enemy of improvement.

To learn more about consistency’s transformative role in business and learn why quality costs less, please see this round table discussion in Forbes (Quality Shifts From Measurement To Driver Of Innovation).


What CEOs And Presidential Candidates Can Learn From Ancient Greek Philosophers | Forbes

Dan was interviewed for The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People in April 2016. In the excerpt that follows, Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes learns more about Dan's selection as the most influential book on the subject of business leadership.


Robert Reiss: Dan, I know you’re a student of business leadership. What book have you found the most influential on the subject of business leadership?

Dan Hesse: Interesting you should ask. I was recently interviewed for The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians and Other Remarkable People. I didn’t choose a book about business or a business leader (I noticed that Tommy Hilfiger chose Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson), but chose the first book I can remember reading which shaped my views on leadership, The Republic, by Plato, which I read as a college undergraduate.

Plato’s observations were impactful in many ways. The Republic is largely Plato’s account of discussions between Socrates and other learned Greeks. Up to this point in my life, my rationale to be good or kind were based on our family’s religious beliefs, a means to an end (going to Heaven vs. Hell).

The men who Socrates was talking to also viewed being just or good as a means to an end, arguing that the only reason just people act so is out of fear of being caught or punished, that they would be better off materially if they could be unjust and get away with it. Or, people act justly because of the benefits to honor or reputation.

Socrates uses logic (the famous “Socratic Method”) to explain why justice, and the search for truth and “the Good” are worthwhile for their own sake, not for gains on earth or in an afterlife. He explains how only the just person can be truly happy.

...Click for full interview.


What CEOs Can Learn From The Royals | Forbes

Dan spoke with Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes on the keys to the Royal's success in the 2015. The elements of leadership ultimately guided the club to the World Series championship. Published November 2015. 


Most Mets fans, and America as a whole, were initially stunned as the Royals displayed unprecedented grit, focus and character – exemplified by becoming the first world series team ever to actually come back to win three of the games when behind after the 8th inning. What I discovered about this remarkable Royals team is that everything was actually part of a 10-year plan to transform the sport – built on the concept of a new baseball post steroid model.

Robert Reiss: The Royals had something very special going on. What makes this Royals team unique?

Dan Hesse: The Royals, the ones you see and the ones you don’t see, are a true team in every sense of the word. It’s said there’s no “I” in team. This team is a special combination on the field, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To compare the Royals with other businesses, I think of owner David Glass as the non-executive Chair, GM Dayton Moore as the CEO, Manager Ned Yost as the COO, the players as the front-line employees, and the rest of the Royals organization as the behind-the-scenes staff support.

The off-the-field support and culture played as important a role as the talent on the field. What struck me was the way that seemingly, in every interview, the players began by talking about the team’s leadership — Dayton Moore, David Glass and Ned Yost, then mentioned their teammates.

The respect the players have for the leadership, the front office and the coaching staff is palpable. When the leadership is asked about the team’s success, they talk about the players, then about others throughout the organization. Humility pervades. Every element of the organization had a contributing role in the collective success of the Royals, and perhaps uniquely, every part of the organization appreciated and valued the contributions that those in different roles played in the team’s success.

...Click for full interview.


'The Mobile Internet Changes Everything' | Forbes

In this excerpt, Dan talks to the Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes about the ubiquitous impact of the mobile internet. Published July 2015.  


Robert Reiss: How important is understanding the evolving internet to CEO’s and their boards?

Dan Hesse: Mobile communications is arguably the most important technological development in the history of the planet.  Cell phone users grew from zero to six billion in 25 years, the most rapidly-adopted technology ever.  But the emerging “internet of things,” where wireless chips will be put into almost every object produced — vehicles, home appliances, clothing, health monitors, wearables and even into the human body, may be even more transformative.  Cisco estimates 50 billion such connected devices will be in use by 2020.

The ubiquitous internet (sometimes referred to as the wireless or the mobile internet) changes everything!  This mobile, always-on internet is transforming economies, education, language, health care, music, safety, privacy and the quality of life for the elderly and those with disabilities. CEOs and boards should understand these implications on the marketplace in which their companies operate.  Imagine a world where a company, its products and its customers are connected 24/7.  The customer relationship, the value proposition and the business model of every company and industry will likely be transformed.  The winners and losers will likely be determined by who innovates most effectively to address this always-connected world.

...Click to read full article.

Interview, Award, Corporate Leadership

How Fortune 500 CEOs Can Drive Corporate Responsibility | Forbes

Dan Hesse was presented with the lifetime achievement award by Publisher of Corporate Responsibility Magazine in November 2013. Robert Reiss conducted the following interview with Dan Hesse to discuss the role of CEOs in solving the world's most pressing issues. 


What is it about Fortune 500 CEOs that uniquely positions them to impact some of the world’s most pressing problems?

Dan Hesse: Because of the great divide between America’s political parties, plus global political differences, governments are less effective at solving problems, so the mantle of leadership is being passed to the leaders of the largest companies.  Fortune 500 CEO’s effect the lives and livelihoods of millions – customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders.  Values-based business leadership has never been more important to solving the country’s and the world’s problems.

What is the relationship between corporate responsibility and building a great organization with strong financial performance?

Dan Hesse: Corporate responsibility has become an important foundation in building Sprint’s culture.  It helps us attract and retain great talent because it’s a common cause and belief system that motivates us all to perform.  Many CR initiatives also reduce costs in areas like the usage of energy, water, or paper, thereby improving financial performance.

...Click for full interview.

Interview, Corporate Leadership

A Catholic CEO Urges The Pope To Embrace Capitalism As A Force For Good | Forbes

During Pope Francis' visit to the United States in 2015, Robert Reiss of The CEO Show and Forbes spoke with Dan on the interrelated subjects of catholicism and capitalism. Dan, a practicing Roman Catholic, explains how leaders can pursue a business career in order to make a positive difference in the world. Published September 2015.


ROBERT REISS: Pope Francis has denounced capitalism as a new “tyranny.” Do you agree with him?

DAN HESSE: I understand why the pope holds this view, but no. As a practicing Roman Catholic, I’ve never supported a pope more enthusiastically than this one. I carry a Pope Francis medal in my wallet. He’s addressing many of the right issues during his papacy and making the Church more inclusive. As you point out, in his papal exhortation almost two years ago, Pope Francis used very strong language. He discussed how exclusion and inequality in today’s capitalist system are dehumanizing, and that our culture of prosperity makes many indifferent to the plight of the poor.

Pope Francis is troubled by the widening gap between rich and poor. He goes so far as to say our love of money is a rejection of ethics. He also criticizes capitalism for the deteriorating state of our planet, stating that the environment is defenseless against man’s search for power and possessions. On the one hand, I’m glad he has the courage to speak his mind clearly, and not mince words, because his strong rhetoric is helping to bring attention to important issues. On the other hand, history has demonstrated that capitalism is by far the best economic system among the alternatives. Witness the growth in the economy and the hundreds of millions pulled out of poverty in China as they moved away from communism and toward capitalism. Yes, the gap widens between the haves and the have nots, but overall, the majority of people are much better off.

Capitalism, at its core, is financial freedom, the free movement of capital and the power of individuals, not government, to determine how money and resources will be spent. Capitalism also goes hand-in-hand with freedom of information. Capitalism and free markets cannot work properly without it. Capitalism also goes hand-in-hand with political freedom and democracy. Completing this virtuous cycle is religious freedom, which the pope certainly supports. So, capitalism, or financial freedom, completes the virtuous cycle of political freedom, religious freedom, and freedom of information, and in my view, a capitalist world is a better place than it would be under any other system.

REISS: So, what would you say to Catholics who are interested in becoming business leaders?

HESSE: I’ve often stated that I believe the role of a CEO or business leader is a vocation, akin in some respects to teaching, parenting, public service, or even the clergy. The leader of a company influences the lives and livelihoods of many people: employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, business partners, and those living in the communities in which a company serves, by what they do, and how they do it. I would encourage anyone who wants to make business more ethical, regardless of religion, to pursue a business career in order to make a positive difference in the world.

REISS: Do you think it antithetical for Catholic schools to teach and promote capitalism and business?

HESSE: Pope Francis is a Jesuit, and they're well known for their mission of teaching. Jesuit and other Catholic schools flourish, particularly in America, through strong private funding, and funding can suffer when an economy isn’t functioning smoothly. It is absolutely critical in my view that Catholic schools teach business. Perhaps it’s ironic that the University of Notre Dame has been ranked as America’s best undergraduate business school by Bloomberg Business Week for the past five years. Business ethics are at the core of Notre Dame’s curriculum. I believe Pope Francis should encourage Catholics, and non-Catholics who share his views, to become capitalists and pursue business careers.

REISS: The Pope implores politicians to get involved in this issue. Do you think politicians can make a difference?

HESSE: Frankly, not really. There are some good public-private partnership examples, like the ConnectED program, where the federal government and a handful of technology and communications companies have come together to provide computers and high speed Internet service to students who cannot afford them. But the real power of capitalism lies in the hands of consumers. Once consumers decide to wield their tremendous economic power and choose to buy products only from responsible companies, capitalism will change for the better. I have seen consumers begin to take notice of corporate responsibility, but slowly.

An interviewer on TV once observed that it is hard for a CEO to act responsibly because Delaware law states that only shareholder interests matter. I argued that responsible behavior strengthens the brand over the long term, so it is in the shareholders' interest. If consumers voted for ethical corporate behavior with their wallets, corporate responsibility would be aligned with shareholder interests in both the short and long term. If consumers decide to spend their money only with companies that treat all of its constituents well, including employees and communities, capitalism will evolve. In capitalism, it’s one dollar, one vote. The consumer, the person with the money, is king.

One might ask, how does a consumer find out which companies act responsibly and which ones don’t? There are many sources of information out there, like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index or the CR magazine 100 Best Corporate Citizens list, as well as publications and rankings devoted to sustainability, financial transparency, diversity, and other important social issues, but it takes investigation by consumers to find these sources. If consumers wanted a comprehensive Consumers Report for responsible companies and paid attention to its rankings, a single, comprehensive guide would likely exist

REISS: Do you think our capitalist system can change?

HESSE: Perhaps no person on the planet has the potential to improve capitalism more than Pope Francis. His power of the pulpit, with Catholics and non-Catholics, is perhaps unprecedented. If he exhorts consumers to only buy from responsible companies that treat the planet and all of their constituents well, this pope might become the most important person in the history of capitalism, ushering in a new age of conscience-driven capitalism.

Reprinted from Robert Reiss' series on