Earthworm Reflection #1
Over the past two or so years, my colleague Julien Troussier and I have been working, within TFT, on Earthworm, a new initiative to help catalyse change at scale. Earthworm is something of a paradox in that to get there, to scale, we believe we have to start with each and every person on the planet. More specifically, we think that change only happens when people connect to and act in accordance with the fundamental human values we each carry inside us. Earthworm thus seeks to go beyond the superficial to connect to the really deep inherent values within us; we seek to go inside.
Earthworm risks being seen as an airy-fairy sort of concept and yet almost 20 years of TFT’s grinding work with company leaders has revealed, through many real cases, that if people really do connect to their values, then we can create change at a scale that few people ever thought possible. Conversely, when people just don’t go there, change actions go nowhere.
Last June, we put our still developing thinking to the test. We held our first Earthworm Gathering in Cogne, in the beautiful Gran Paradiso National Park in the Italian Alps. We took people (where we usually take companies) through our Values-Transparency-Transformation-Verification approach and it was a great success. For the most part, we had terrific feedback from the twelve participants. One person really didn’t like it and we learned a lot from that critique. Since then, we’ve rolled out a number of different types of Earthworm Gatherings. Julien has led Gatherings with our TFT teams from the Americas and Malaysia. We led another in Cogne with our Global Leadership Team and another in France with our TFT Member Managers. We’ve also held a Gathering with a group of our members and just last week, we supported Nestlé in Thailand as part of the induction of the new Responsible Sourcing team. Lookout for my next podcast on our experience there with Nestlé. Each time we listen carefully to the feedback and tailor our subsequent Gatherings accordingly.
What are we learning?
I recently spoke to Julien to get his reflections. The whole purpose of Earthworm is to give people the time and space to reflect on their values and to consider how they’re going in terms of living true to their guidance. Our experience with our Gatherings so far is that most people really want this - it waters their gardens.
In this podcast, Julien and I discuss what we’ve learned so far. It seems there is an appetite for Earthworm out there, or really, that people so value the opportunity the space and time to reflect affords them. We’re all rather busy these days and pausing for a moment to reflect or to ensure we’re aligned with our values is becoming all too rare.