Thursday, February 15, 2007
What is the purpose of your organization?
Humans have an internal compass which provides them with a bearingpoint so that they know where they are and more importantly where they are headed. Sometimes this compass stops functioning and folks wander around lost in the wilderness and began to believe that corporations exist for more than they really do. Maybe we should first state the reason why they exist:
- To make a Return on Investment (aka make money)
- To make a Profit (as much as possible)
- To be productive
- To be sustainable (for as long as possible)
Most folks will acknowledge that the first, second and forth bullets resonate with them but may struggle with the third. We can find all sorts of anecdotal comments in the blogosphere regarding the lack of productivity in enterprisey environments. Likewise, we can find tons of Dilbert cartoons where the Pointy Haired Boss does something braindead that hurts morale and lowers productivity. I am of the believe that productivity matters but for as few people as possible and to the extent it doesn't get in the way of the other three goals.
Consider the fact that increasing the productivity of a group of high-powered individuals who are not in the executive rank may be a noble thing but if you think for a moment, this may not be a sustainable way of thinking about stuff. Executives at some level have to acknowledge that the vast majority of their employees are average and therefore productivity improvements should be only developed in a way that average folks can sustain. If you optimize high-powered Type A employees and they ever decide to leave for fertile pastures elsewhere then they may not only have a difficult time replacing them but will also decrease productivity done the road.
Some folks would add on to the list, characteristics such as:
- Provide career development
- Provide a product or service
- Keep their customers satisfied
The first bullet is intriguing in that most folks somehow believe that HR departments exist to help employees. Reality states that their existense is to protect the corporation from frivolous lawsuits. HR departments may provide a career path but this is distinct from career development which resides in each and every individuals court. Likewise, corporations strive to keep their customers satisfied but only to the extent that they don't become customers elsewhere. If you go beyond that line, you will only spend more money than what is required and jeopardize the previous four bullets.
The first four bullets are all about capitalism while the second three bullets are all about socialism. Both are required in order to be successful...
Links to this post: