Nike recently released their “Corporate Responsibility Report FY07-09” and I was so impressed by it, I just had to share my thoughts about it.
Many of you know how big of a Nike fan I am, so it’s probably not surprising that the report resonated so strongly with me.   But actually, I don’t think my positive brand bias has much to do with my reaction to the report.   After all, I take a very skeptical stance when it comes to corporate social responsibility because many companies’ CSR efforts lack integrity the way their brand efforts do – they emphasize the saying vs. the doing.
Clearly Nike is giving CSR more than lip service.   Although the report itself is an impactful document (it’s a well-designed, well-written 176-page piece), it’s what it relays that is so impressive.   Here are 3 remarkable things Nike is doing:
1. Connecting vision and execution – Nike has a compelling vision for their CSR efforts – “to bring people, planet, and profits into balance for lasting success.”   It’s crisp, memorable, and inspiring.
And while many other corporations have similarly lofty aspirations, Nike’s vision is clearly only the beginning for them.   They have crafted specific strategies to fulfill the vision, specific goals for each strategy, and specific plans for each goal. This planning infrastructure increases the likelihood of actually achieving what they dream.
Furthermore the tactics they’ve undertaken demonstrate they’re breaking down their plans into digestible chunks and incremental steps.   Sometimes even small-sounding changes – like using a single shoe lace woven between parts of a shoe to eliminate the need for adhesives and allow for easier disassembly – has moved them one step closer to their vision.   It’s clear they understand the Thomas Edison adage “vision without execution is hallucination.”
2. Seeing it a business issue – CSR at Nike isn’t about being politically correct or improving brand perceptions.   Yes, those may be outcomes but Nike is doing this...