The world has become accustomed to Nike’s brands, which include Air Jordan, Nike+, LIVESTRONG, and Air Force One. Yet, Nike, Inc. is unveiling its latest innovation – the FlyKnit Racer. This new shoe brand signifies FlyKnit, the new technology from Nike, Inc. that enables the sewing of shoes from thread instead of cutting the shoes from fabric sections. These are just many of the innovations attributed to Mark Parker, the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nike, Inc. Since his appointment, Mark Parker has transformed the way Nike, Inc. does operations. For example, his first role in turning around Nike, Inc.’s fortunes was to reorganize the company into independent units, with each unit catering for a particular sport. In this way, the company’s focus was restored to its initial goal – being the ultimate sportswear manufacturer of choice for athletes (athletes in this case refers to anyone who performs any physical activity). Moreover, he understood the need to tap into emerging markets from the South East Asia. Therefore, the company focused more in markets such as China.
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Business sustainability entails the capability of a company or organization to remain competitive and be active in the creation of social values. Sustainable leadership, therefore, recognizes that a company’s success has to be attainable amidst a concert of factors that include societies, eco-systems, markets, businesses, and individuals. Traditionally, the ability of a business entity to sustain its competitiveness depends on three pillars: the environment, the society, and the business economics. In addition, scholars have identified the scholar, practitioner, leader model (SPL) as an alternative to the three pillar model. Here, the scholar entails a lifetime of learning; the practitioner signifies one’s contributions to both the work and social sphere; and the leader is one’s ability to inspire others positively across their careers and personal lives. Numerous articles about Mark Parker have appeared in magazines, journals, newspapers, and in the television that showcase how the CEO has managed to turn around the fortunes of Nike, Inc. and make it one of them most reputable companies in sustainability.
The well-known personal traits of Mark Parker include openness, curiosity, and adaptability. These traits have enabled him to build a culture of innovativeness at the company in addition to enabling the company to become a cutting edge pioneer in the sports apparel industry. A designer himself, Parker’s openness is evident by his practice of making impromptu visits to the company’s R&D department where he will inquire about the ongoing projects. Moreover, the company encourages all their employees to forward their ideas and suggestions to the R&D department where the ideas will undergo vetting if not development. This open policy approach by Mark Parker is informed by his lifetime of experience as a designer in the company until he rose through the ranks to be appointed the CEO in 2004. His experience, coupled with a creative mind, has seen him lead the company through perilous times into the future. For example, Mark Parker is reputed as being exceptionally curious. To satisfy his curiosity, Mark Parker often organizes events like art shows, design contests, and sporting events where interested parties come to meet, talk about and explore their passions and motivations. In this way, Mark Parker updates himself about the new trends and future fashion setters, which he uses to inspire the R&D department of Nike, Inc. It is no surprise that Nike, Inc. continues to lead in futuristic designs and concepts in their particular industry.
Management wise, Mark Parker translates his character of adaptability to inspire a company management style that has no defined structure in operation. For instance, the company emphasizes on the bottom-up approach at the research and innovation level but still employs the top-down approach in offering guidance and selecting priority projects. Therefore, there is no a “one shoe fits all sizes” management approach that many multinationals tend to rely on. Consequently, the lifeline of Nike, Inc. hinges on the relationship between people, not the usual company structures and job descriptions. According to Michael Fullan, organizations that survive into the often have defined structures but rarely stick to those plans every time. Instead, different approaches are temporarily employed according to the situation. Mark Parker demonstrates this style of management at Nike, Inc.
It is apparent that Mark Parker’s management approach demonstrates the three pillars of sustainable leadership: environment, society, and economics. Mark combines all these elements through his lifetime experience as a designer, practically engaging in the innovation process through social events, and being able to motivate his employees by promoting openness and curiosity by example. These personal traits of parker exemplify the kind of styles needed in sustainable management.