I recently met, and had dinner with Alex Sheen. While his name may not be familiar, the social movement and nonprofit organization he created 'because I said I would' has been getting a lot of attention. Perhaps you've heard of the man who determined to write 826 notes for his daughter so that, despite his illness, she'd have a note from him in her lunch every day through high school, even if he didn't survive to see her graduate. Or the man who decided to accept responsibility (and accountability) and confessed to killing someone while driving drunk, sparing the victim's family the pain, and the courts the costs of prosecution even though his attorney advised him, strongly, not to do so.
These are just two examples of the power 'because I said I would' which is dedicated to bettering humanity through the power of a promise. Through the use of 'promise cards' the organization reminds people of the power of keeping promise. People have used the cards to promise to leave destructive relationships, to overcome addictions, and a host of other promises that are no less important to those who receive them than the dramatic stories that the media has covered.
And the organization also, by showing the power of keeping promises, exposes the destructive power of breaking one. 'because I said I would' reminds people that broken promises hurt -- and can hurt deeply. I still remember the first time an adult made me a promise and failed to fulfill it.
This got me thinking -- Why should individual promises carry more weight than corporate promises? Perhaps because there is no single name or face associated with it. Sure there are cases such as the Men's Warehouse 'I guarantee it' and the Lee Iaccoca ads for Chrysler that put a name and a face to a corporate promise but on the whole does being a 'faceless' organization make it easier to break promises? After all, a group decision often has no one person to blame? After all, when General Motors decided, for tragic example, that $1 was too much to spend to fix a faulty ignition switch, there is no one individual to blame.
Perhaps while it makes it easier for a company, or the people in the decision-making process, but that offers little solace or comfort to the consumer. To the families of the 13 people killed in GM cars traced back to the faulty party, the decision is very, very personal.
Perhaps it is time for the 'because we said we would' movement in business? What a great litmus test (rather than dollars). Why provide safe work places, reduce negative environmental impacts and in other ways act in a manner in accordance with their articulated values? Perhaps there can be no better reason than -- because we said we would.
Whether through actual statements or by implications -- it has the power to change the world.