Maintaining Perspective and Purpose through Change

Maintaining Perspective and Purpose through Change: An excerpt from Unleashed

When facing critical inflection points, it’s easy to want to change everything about your organization. But those who have gotten through liminal spaces (that moment of discomfort that creates an openness to change) know that in order to endure and grow, first you need to remember what your north star – your purpose – is.

Mark T. Smucker is a longtime telos client. Mark took over as president and CEO of The J.M. Smucker Company right as the packaged food industry was changing, and he never lost sight of his company’s values and the importance of having the right leaders in place. “One thing I have always said is that we have to be willing to change everything about our business, even our strategy. But what we should never change is our core value and our commitment to each other.” Here, in this excerpt from Unleashed, Mark explains his thought process when first taking over the reins of the company. Key takeaway: Surrounding yourself with smart people who have diverse viewpoints is key to getting through transitions.

I was tremendously excited to have the opportunity to be the next family steward of the company. The brands and the people are what get me out of bed and into work every day; they’re the aspects of the company that I’m most passionate about. I knew I had the opportunity to make the changes necessary to usher the company into the next few decades. I knew I had a chance to make sure the organization could rise to meet the changes, challenges, and opportunities present in the marketplace, while making the world a better place along the way. It was a privilege to have the chance to make that kind of impact. But the weight of the responsibility was not lost on me. To make a significant impact, I had to make sure we preserved and grew our brands and our people. I knew we had to make sure that we kept our finger on the pulse of not only what was happening outside the company but also what was happening inside it. I knew that would require a greater degree of transparency, including a much more frequent cadence of communication and the implementation of tools to gather feedback from the organization at large—from surveys to focus groups.


As I thought about all the changes I was excited to make, I also knew I needed a great team that was capable of helping to drive those changes. I surrounded myself with people who are smarter than me, people with different points of view. Doing so helped me—and us as a team—try to make the right decisions.


To read more, purchase the full copy of Unleashed: Harnessing the Power of Liminal Space here. Also available as an audiobook at the following locations: