Operational Transformation: Moving Forward with Strength

Operational Transformation: Moving Forward with Strength (IMUA)

When it comes to succeeding and thriving in business, we all know the punchlines. We need a solid foundation and a steady direction to keep pushing forward. Avoid stagnation at all costs, etcetera etcetera. In the abstract, big picture, this is all fine and well—as I said, we all know these talking points. However, it’s bringing it down to something concrete and executable that can be quite tricky for any business owner, leader, and/or strategist.

Many ways can be useful for making these abstract ideas more concrete, and a really important one is the centering of some important and immovable values. When it comes to direction, making tough business decisions, and understanding where to place company time, effort, and money, having a solid set of foundational values can make a significant difference. In particular, Hawaiian values have been quite important here on Living Pono, and the value of Imua is a special one that truly speaks to operational transformation.


The Hawaiian Value

The Hawaiian value of Imua comes from a long and broader context in the Hawaiian tradition. Many of the values tie together intimately, as these values are not just a list of individual or independent principles. Imua, specifically, speaks about “moving forward,” or “moving ahead.” According to Hilo Hattie, it expresses a deep commitment to a feeling, idea, or cause.

Indeed, Imua transcends the confines of business discussions. It serves as a powerful testament to the enduring strength of perseverance, something that is incredibly important to Hawaiian culture and tradition. The story of Hawai’i, of course, cannot be told without the mention of ongoing American colonization. And, despite this historical and current occupation, and despite the cultural suppression that goes alongside it, the Hawaiian people have stood strong behind their values and their community. This is true perseverance, and it is the spirit of Imua.

It is a bit of a simplistic application to fit this value into business practices, but there are important lessons to be learned and explored. This spirit of commitment and perseverance is very much in line with the abstract business values that we have mentioned, and gives us a very real-world example of how some of these mindsets might come to fruition. Commitment to values, though, begs the question of which values.


Leadership and Operational Strength

When it comes to operational strength and transformation, we can re-contextualize this spirit of Imua to our familiar setting of business operations. We do not have to shift too far, though, since other Hawaiian values can serve us well as guiding lights in this operational perseverance.

We have a more specific discussion of those here, but here are a few values that stand out:

  • Kealahou: a new perspective. Seeing things a second time, from a new perspective, can shine a light on strengths that may have seemed like weaknesses.
  • Oluolu: caring. Even the smallest acts of care that we perform could change somebody’s day, or somebody’s life.
  • Akamai: resourceful. Success doesn’t just come from having the right resources and the right preparation, it also means being able to navigate tough and complicated situations. This is more than just “conventional intelligence.” Of course, not all-powerful values necessarily have to come from a Hawaiian tradition. Finding strong values to follow, no matter the origin can build a strong foundation to guide you and your business down the right paths. Simon Sinek’s idea of a Just Cause is one way to see this guiding force. Having something that you truly believe in and that you will not fold on gives you direction, and motivates you to find success even when it takes an awful amount of work.


Imua Case Studies

To take this even further out of the abstract, we can look at a few case studies wherein Imua was put to work with great success. Two examples that we’ve talked about before are Netflix and Chime. Both of these organizations have great reputations, and it is largely thanks to the values that they have committed to.

In the case of Netflix, perseverance, and movement forward have always been through the value of innovation. When Netflix first came onto the scene, it revolutionized the movie rental industry—so much so that industry institutions like Blockbuster went out of business altogether. Innovation continued into streaming and, now, with the Netflix original projects that are greenlit at a risk and, often, that turn into instant classics. At every turn in the road, Netflix has moved ahead by following the guidance of its founding values.

Similarly, Chime earns its shining reputation by its commitment to “doing the right thing.” It puts customer service and experience first, providing an unbeatable UI/UX experience for all users. It also champions financial accessibility, extending its services to those with a bit of a financial handicap. The result? The Chime app is a joy to use, and user loyalty skyrockets. Even when “doing the right thing” comes at an operational cost, the success and payoff is clear.

Importantly, both of these values are not obscure or original. However, it is the unwavering commitment and contextualization of these values that propels each company forward. Netflix’s innovation isn’t just a buzzword—they quite literally changed the industry forever. Chime’s commitment isn’t just an About Us bit of copywriting, it is undeniably evident from the moment you compare the Chime app usability to any other banking app. It’s not all talk, and that’s the whole point.

Practicing Imua can truly define your operational strength and grant you the transformation that your business needs. However, to do so meaningfully, you’ll have to look for and towards some unwavering values, or some cause, that you can commit to genuinely. And that journey is a personal one. 

Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May,  an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.

Finally, consider following the Living Pono Podcast to listen to episodes about living righteously, business management concepts, and interviews with business leaders.

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