Purpose and Profit.

Envision IT Pressroom | January 5, 2018

Envision IT Pressroom
January 5, 2018

Purpose and Profit. Reaching Beyond the Bottom Line

An interview with Madison business leader Nancy Pautsch, a passionate and vocal supporter of the conscious capitalism ideals. As featured in Brava Magazine, Madison, WI, December 21, 2017 . Photographic images in this article are courtesy of Kaia Calhoun Photography. 

1. What is your preferred name and title? 

Nancy Pautsch, Chief Evangelist of Stakeholder Value (aka President)

Brava Magazine Envision Page

2. Tell me more about Envision IT: what you do as a company, how long you’ve been with the company, and what your mission is. 

Who: We’re a group of talented and compassionate people growing a soulful company.

Why: Our purpose is to improve the lives of our stakeholders which are our employees (aka Envisioners and family), our clients, our business partners, and our community.

What: We optimize technology for businesses to help ensure that technology is an enabler for employee engagement and not an obstacle. In life, most people want to be seen, heard, and know that they matter. Work life isn’t much different – people want to effectively contribute and be recognized for it. Envision IT works with companies to provide an excellent user experience for employees while also delivering on the other business requirements of IT such as security, efficiency, and reasonable costs. We prove daily that organizations can thrive in the world of ‘and’ versus strict trade-offs with regards to technology, people, and business results. Given how much time people spend at work these days, and then how much of that professional time involves technology – it’s important that work-life is as good as possible for employees and others that the business serves. We make. awesome. work.

Bill Crahen and I joined Beau Smithback, Envision IT founder, in October of 2013 to constructively grow the company. Envision IT was a good company from the start. 

3. In your words, how do you define “conscious capitalism”? Why is it important for a company to practice this? How does conscious capitalism make a positive impact on local communities and on the world? 

Nancy Pautsch Brava Magazine Conscious capitalism is a movement focused on elevating humanity through business. It’s also a global community of like-minded businesses that believe for-profit business has been and can be a force for good. Conscious businesses are impassioned working for a higher purpose, take a stakeholder perspective (versus shareholder-only), have leaders dedicated to conscious leadership and effectively setting the tone for a conscious culture within the company.

Capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty and created prosperity around the world. The population currently working in the private sector is massive, if many of us contribute to ‘doing good’ while doing well we can effectively move the needle on improving the world. The Conscious piece is key. Capitalism on its own can be detrimental – especially when the focus is solely on profits at any or all costs. Increasingly we see this nationally and even locally with activist investors reaping havoc on companies and communities for short-lived spikes in shareholder profit.

Conscious capitalism is also proven as ‘good business.’ An important inspiration to our journey is the book Firms of Endearment. It discusses conscious capitalism and profiles many companies and how/why they are doing business along with their impressive results. The authors also illustrate how the stock price performance of public Firms of Endearment (FoEs) dwarfs that of the S&P 500 across multiple timeframes including 3, 5, 10, and 15 years. FoEs also outperform “Good to Great” companies (identified in Jim Collin’s book) over the longer time periods. Those are striking trends.

There are several Conscious Capitalism events during the year that are great opportunities to learn and grow. Every year I participate in the CEO Summit for Conscious Capitalists where about 150 like-minded leaders meet-up. All of us have our own stories of how we’re positively impacting the world and operating a profitable business – we come with sleeves rolled up and ready to learn from each other. We enthusiastically share our triumphs and vulnerably discuss our mistakes. It’s a great community. Among the participants in the last couple years were Denise Morrison (Campbell Soup Company), Bob Chapman (Barry Wehmiller), Ron Shaich (Panera Bread), Roy Spence (GSD&M and the Purpose Institute), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Dan Pink (researcher and author), Brene Brown (researcher and author), etc. Ron Schaich, CEO of Panera Bread Co. eloquently talked about how profoundly caring about the lives of other people leads to better financial results and then shared Panera’s impressive financial success. Ron said, “Panera was the best-performing restaurant stock of the past 20 years, delivering a total shareholder return of 86-fold from July 18, 1997 to July 18, 2017, compared to a less than two-fold increase for the S&P 500 during the same period…What’s more, our stock generated annualized returns 25 percent in the same timeframe, which I’m proud to say is better than the returns of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway during the same period.”

As far as doing good in the world…one of last year’s attendees, Selim Bassoul (The Middleby Corporation) recruited folks during this year’s Summit to join him on an exploratory trip to Puerto Rico to see how we could help. He chartered a plane, loaded up several stoves he created for refugees, and headed to Puerto Rico to assist.

4.  I understand that you led Envision IT’s “strategic transformation” which helped to bring about a greater focus on conscious capitalism. Can you tell me more about this? What are the specific tentpoles that have fostered this transformation? What are the results of this transformation? And in what ways is Envision IT better for it?

Yes. Envision was doing some really good things, however, aspired to do even more. That’s a constant theme with us. We tweaked the business model, strengthened our differentiation in the industry, and fully operationalized our conscious business principles. We aligned our business to support our appreciation for life experience versus ‘the stuff’ or product (harkening to the Age of Transcendence versus consumerism). We focused on how every aspect of our business did/didn’t/could/couldn’t benefit one or more stakeholders and our profitability. We also identified the interdependencies of these things. If we’re not profitable, we can’t continue to invest in our employees’ or clients’ experience, our community, etc. We’re now an anomaly in our industry and how we do business is being received very well. 

Nancy Pautsch, Brava Article

Envision IT and our stakeholders are better for it in countless ways…most importantly we are improving the lives of our stakeholders and achieving great business results – again these are interdependent.

5. How many employees do you have? How has this approach to conscious capitalism impacted them? Along with your clients and stakeholders? 

Employees are a stakeholder. We currently have about 30 employees and are growing – though conservatively. We won’t sacrifice quality (in anything) for growth. Earlier I mentioned supporting our clients with their employee engagement, well we don’t just engage our employees – we strive to endear them. We’re like family and love each other like family – and yes, we have no reservations using the L word. We continually invest in their life experience and specifically in stuff that’s applicable to them and their families’ lives – we’re not interested in checking a box for image, we care about contributing to our Envisioners’ whole life happiness. Our office walls are covered with pictures of our families (including our pets) – that’s what we invest in. 

Every Envisioner knows our greater purpose and how they contribute to it every day – from a specific work role as well as the human perspective. For example, our Envision as a Service Endearment Team (aka Help Desk) have been compared to nurses – they genuinely care about helping an end-user or technology administrator. They aren’t trying to be the hero for the sake of taking the credit, they just want to help someone resolve a problem. In working with one of our large healthcare clients our virtualization engineers helped improve the caregivers’ technology experience (mostly doctors and nurses) while also improving operational efficiency and workflow that ultimately returned 525 hours per day to the caregivers to spend with patients. The highlight for our engineering team was hearing from the caregivers that we helped improve their work-life and ability to provide remarkable care.

Our business development team carry the title ‘Stakeholder Value Seeker’ because they are tasked with understanding if/how we can positively impact a client’s business. They also need to determine if a potential client is a company that we want to do business with – with their fellow Envisioners top-of-mind. We’re careful about partnering with companies that have toxic cultures in consideration of our team members having to work with them. It seems this is a new way of thinking in the ‘sales’ world – funny enough I published a LinkedIn post earlier this year looking for business development folks. The post described the role, but didn’t use the term ‘sales’ or title of ‘account rep.’ We had a flood of responses, however, all were technical professionals – not one business development professional.

Customers are a stakeholder. We care about them as people, their business, and their lives outside of work too. One of our clients, DRM Transit, is revolutionizing the non-urgent medical transportation business and we are passionate about their mission, their people, and their stakeholder-oriented business model! They are working to right many of the wrongs in that industry today – and many of the unsavory business practices they observe are directly related to other organizations putting profit as the sole objective and at the cost of many. So, DRM Transit is working to appropriately leverage government programs, bring transparency to the industry, effectively benefit vulnerable patients requiring transportation services, and improve the experience for healthcare facilities treating the patients. We work with DRM Transit to recruit and qualify potential drivers, bolster their drivers’ safety, and ensure accuracy and efficiency with their back-end business operations internally and with their business partners. DRM Transit exemplifies business as a purpose for good … and they are really fun and inspiring to work with!

I mentioned earlier that in our business, we focus on our clients’ business objectives as well as ways to enhance the experience in working with us. And with that, we collaborate with our clients on what really matters to them versus fluff or the aforementioned ‘checking the box.’ If we’ve achieved the clients’ business objectives in the end, but the experience was terrible – that’s not good enough.

Occasionally we’ll schedule and host celebrations of our mutual success and gratitude with clients. Equally though our clients will take lead on those events and host us…we genuinely appreciate each other and have a partnership versus a vendor/customer relationship.

Our business partners are stakeholders. Their value-add to our business as well as their culture are big influencers for us when selecting our business partners. And we work with them the same way as our clients. We initiate and maintain an open dialogue. We try to be clear on our requests, collaborative on expectations, enthusiastically expressive with our appreciation, and constructive with criticism (and only when it really matters).

Our community is also a stakeholder, and we can talk a lot about that.

6. I understand that since this transformation, Envision IT has earned triple-digit revenue growth, is this correct? And greater than 75% improved profitability? How did conscious capitalism play into this? Generally, how does conscious capitalism improve a company’s bottom line? 

Yes, we’ve experienced incredible business achievements including top and bottom line growth. And with that, our investment in our stakeholders’ experience is linear. We’re long-term oriented. Well, our growth happened since our transformation that began in Q4 of 2013 and so yes, conscious capitalism is a major contributor – the tenets helped guide our business strategy. However, Envisioners are the biggest contributor – they are talented, kind, compassionate, naturally curious (life-learners), and on-purpose!

Generally, conscious capitalism alone may not improve a company’s bottom line. A company must have key business success factors such as a profitable and sustainable business model, a differentiated product or service with an addressable market, a sound go-to-market strategy, etc. and then execute on all of it. However, the tenets of Conscious Capitalism can certainly contribute to those factors. Some examples…many workers today (and especially millennials and Gen Z’ers) are building purpose into their careers. They are considering their career one component of a ‘whole life.’ It’s increasingly important to people – so this factors into recruiting people that will be genuinely invested in the corporate mission or ‘purpose’ for good. Engaged employees are more productive and happier. Conscious leaders are emotionally intelligent (incl. self-aware and other aware), compassionate, committed to continual personal growth (which influences their happiness and sense of grounding – infectious!), and typically align with ‘servant leadership’ at some level. This helps set the stage for a conscious culture…characteristics of a conscious culture include fostering a ‘safe’ environment for people to share diverse perspectives, new ways of thinking, etc. and that drives innovation; a natural sense of family/team/tribe where people feel connected and voluntarily support each other – we have natural reactions to help one another and do the right thing. I could go on and on about conscious leadership and conscious cultures because they are SO important…please stop me! 

7. What are the contributions Envision IT has made to the economy and local community? Specifically, how is Envision IT working to do good here in Madison? 

Our community is a stakeholder and equal to our other stakeholders. First and foremost, we’re a good employer creating jobs, enriching lives, and focused on the long-term success of our Envision family and all we serve. We invest in developing and enriching the burgeoning workforce with our internship program – Envisioners of the Future. And an important point is that we also learn from our interns – they help us develop too. And then of course we invest our time, talent, and monies to several non-profits and causes. We typically select non-profits and causes that are near and dear to our Envision family – so we have a very long and growing list that changes over time.

8. Is compassion a top tenant of your company’s mission? In what ways does your company exercise compassion on a daily basis? 

Yes, compassion is inherent in a conscious culture. Envisioners practice compassion every day among all our stakeholders – whether it’s taking on a workload so a teammate can attend his/her child’s sporting event or recital, our compassion-focused volunteer efforts, and the bigger stuff.  Frankly, we had a rollercoaster summer this year. Within one week our Envision family experienced 2 joyful life changing events and 3 tragic life changing events…including the death of an Envisioner (an employee). We’re not a large company and so this was like a tidal wave. It was the craziest time ever…we carried each other trying to genuinely appreciate (and be present for) the good in the positive events; identify reasons to be grateful in everything; and we helped each other through the grieving process (which folks experience differently!) We’re still healing together, however, this summer confirmed our ‘why’ and its each other and our shared human experience.

9. I understand that you’ve worked with Exact Sciences - in what ways? I interviewed them for my “Human Kind” piece I wrote last year. 

Yes, in fact Envision IT was globally recognized for our good work with Exact Sciences. It was an honor that highlighted our engineering excellence, achievement of our client’s business objectives, quality of experience in partnering, and together doing purposeful work – helping to eradicate colon cancer. The team at Exact Sciences is outstanding. We both greatly appreciated the fanfare, however, this is stuff that we do every day.

10. Feel free to share anything else that would be of interest to BRAVA readers!

Yes, any of your readers that practice one or more tenets of Conscious Capitalism or know others that do – let’s connect! We put feelers out earlier this year – just to network (with an intent to learn from each other) with other like-minded Wisconsin businesses and sadly, we had very low responses. There’s nothing to sell or market with conscious capitalism – it’s simply an enriching community. We’re leading the movement in Wisconsin…however, it’s lonely at this point. I’m an Advisory Board member of the CC Chicago Chapter and would love to spend more time closer to home with like-minded organizations. So please encourage leaders to reach out to us!

About Envision IT

Envision IT is a group of talented and compassionate people growing a soulful company. Envision IT is in business to create and sustain fulfilling careers and enable quality of life for our employees, help our clients do the same for their employees, and be a generous contributor within our communities. We optimize technology for businesses to help ensure that technology is an enabler for employee engagement and business success and not an obstacle.

About Brava Magazine

BRAVA Magazine is the No. 1 magazine read by over 48,000 Madison-area women every month with a cumulative readership of over 60,000. Brava’s mission is to encourage women in the greater Madison community to thrive in their lives by providing content and events that inspire, empower and initiate change.

Media Inquiries:
Rachel Bolger, Envisioner
Envision IT
Tags: Community Involvement, Conscious Business, Conscious Capitalism, Featured, Giving Back