B-Corp Series: Jon MacDonald
When I talk about ways to make decision-making more inclusive, I’ve noticed that people either perk-up…or look overwhelmed. But the leaders who always want to talk about decision-making are B-Corp executives. B-Corp executives are a special breed.
Why? B-Corp certification for your for-profit company requires you to go through an assessment that measures how you operate with respect to your people, your partnerships, and your impact on the planet.
B-Corp executives are a special breed.
B-Corp executives are attuned to the people in their companies. And they’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact. Attunement is “baked into” being awarded a B-Corp certification.
They’re attuned to the decisions they make, because they’ve had to look carefully at the ways their choices create a net social impact.
B-Corp executives are the cohort of people who are leading the way by being conscious about their decision-making cultures.
And I thought you should meet a few of them:
President & Founder of The Good
Jon MacDonald is on a mission—to remove all bad online experiences. And his company, The Good, works to help organizations make their online experiences better — so that visitors can naturally transform into purchasers. The Good’s customers range from corporations like Xerox, to companies like KleenKanteen. And the business boasts a 9:1 ROI.
The Good became a B-Corp in 2017 because the designation reflected what the company was already doing, and it fit naturally into their brand. More importantly, the designation helped Jon attract great talent — since younger, more tech-savvy people want to be a part of a company culture they agree with.
Culture is very important to Jon and his team, and the company operates around three core values:
- Be a force for change,
- Make improvements (not excuses), and
- Inspire by example.
These values translate into expecting his team to encourage each other to take opportunities to actively make things better (1), to hold each other accountable to grow…but not expect perfection (2) and to challenge each other to take risks while keeping an eye on long-term gains (3).
These values sound nice, but actually practicing these values requires a daily context where people aren’t afraid to take risks. Says Jon, “We don’t do post-mortems. We don’t seek perfection … we seek growth. We simply focus on empowering people to do their work.”
“The only imperative we have is the imperative to change,” he says. Which means that his team of 13 has to continually adapt to their environment. “We’ve created an environment where you have to be willing to take risks. And you have to be willing to change. So, if change freaks you out… this place is not for you.”
In terms of decision-making, Jon has a very clear position on decision-making for others and on giving advice. “I don’t do it, “he says. “I don’t want to be making decisions for others.”
However, if they are stuck, Jon also doesn’t give advice. He simply offers what he did in the past when he was in a similar position. His reasons for this are very clear: “There are only three ways it can go when giving someone advice:
- They take it and do it. If it doesn’t go well, it doesn’t build trust.
- They take it and do it. If it does go well, it builds dependency.
- They don’t take it at all. (So then why give my advice?) “
Jon’s approach is to support his peoples’ abilities to come up with the answers. “My stance is this: You know what to do. I’m willing to tell you what I did in the past if you want … but you know what to do.”
This way of operating is conscious. Jon is conscious about building a culture of autonomy. He’s conscious about creating a workplace where he is not providing answers, but offering opportunities for people to assert themselves and make progress on an ever-evolving list of projects. He engages them, and he allows them to fail. It’s a deep part of who The Good is, and how they do good in the world.