The Method Method

Jacquie Ottman

In their new book The Method Method: 7 Obsessions that Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn an Industry Upside Down, Method co-founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, with co-author Lucas Conley, take the occasion of their unconventional company’s tenth anniversary to step back and offer readers the opportunity to peek inside their business, learning from their mistakes and acquiring the secrets to their success.

This book is a must-read for those just starting a consumer business today, those seeking inspiration and, for the sake of the planet, the naysayers that believe a business dedicated to sustainability cannot be successful and profitable.

Method’s high-quality products, commitment to sustainability, dedication to full transparency and ability to inspire change on a grand scale attracted me to Method years ago — and are well documented in the book. Like many in the green-marketing world, their unconventional style of doing business quickly attracted my attention and made me want to learn more. My cumulative learning is showcased in a case study published in my recent book, The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding.

Culture is the Secret Sauce

I thought after researching the company in detail I was up to speed on their methodologies, beliefs, and practices. But in The Method Method Eric and Adam seem to hold nothing back, providing even the most diehard advocates like myself with much that’s new.

I found the chapter on creating a corporate culture particularly eye-opening. No company achieves nearly overnight success across such fiercely competitive, slow-growing product categories as home cleaning, personal care, laundry, as well as babies and kids, complete with distribution in Target, Kroger, Whole Foods, Toys R Us and other major retailers, without creating a culture like theirs — branded from the inside out and marked by innovation, collaboration, resourcefulness, speed and value placed on ideas and opinions.

Operating as a David in a world of Goliaths, like Procter & Gamble, Colgate and Unilever, the Method team excels by staying one step ahead of the market. Likely representing the secret sauce behind the Method madness, Method’s culture is fuelled by painstaking recruitment practices: Monday morning huddles, a team-based organisational structure facilitated by a fully open office layout and staying true to their values and their social mission — to do good in the world by giving people a great, healthy, cool product that is good for both them and the environment.

In the book, Eric and Adam pose the question, “how do you chart a course to a place no one’s ever been?” Then they go on to offer the key to their success in one short sentence: “we believe the answer lies in creating an innovative culture in which new ideas can thrive”. The authors cite a personal connection between employees and their work to ignite morale and quality, summarised in this statement from the book: “because our employees are actually creating products for themselves and their families, visionary and revolutionary ideas come straight from the heart”.

Method’s transparency and oft-published articles in the business press can give one the impression of easy familiarity with the company. But this culture connection to their success is likely the most critical and not as public or publicised as their products or oft-quoted founders. So, if you still work for a company that makes look-alike products that don’t resonate with a fast-changing consumer taste, pick up this book for no other reason than to learn more about the role culture can play in providing your own company with a competitive edge.

This article was previously published on SustainableBrands.com

Jacquelyn Ottman is an expert adviser on green marketing to Fortune 500 firms, entrepreneurial companies, and the U.S. government. She is the author of The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding.

The New Rules of Green Marketing (paperback) is one of the many titles available at 40% discount as part of Greenleaf Publishing’s December sale. See the Greenleaf Publishing website for more details.

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