Leadership-Performance Management for New Age Organizations
I have confidence that a new business ethic will emerge.There are many parts of the total business ethic that need attention, but the one I will deal with seems the most basic.
Looking at the two major elements, the work and the person, the new ethic, simply but quite completely stated will be. “The business exists as much to provide meaningful work to the person as it exists to provide a product or service to the customer”. The business then becomes a serving institution – serving those who produce and those who use. At first the new ethic may put these two on par. But as the economy becomes even more productive.. the new business ethic of service to those who produce, may rise in priority, above service to those who use and the significance of work will be, more the joy of doing rather than the goods and services produced. There must, of course, be goods and services at some level, but in an era of abundance, they need not be the top priority.
In an overcrowded industrial society. where most people spend their working lives, [business institutions need to ] adopt an ethic in which meaning and significance are the goal – at least on parity with other goals. And to bring it to parity, it must, for a while at least, be the primary goal.Its accomplishment rests on the ability of institution builders and leaders to move these institutions (while keeping them intact and functioning) from where they are, with the heavy emphasis on production, to where they need to be, with the heavy emphasis on growing people. And they have to do this while meeting all the other performance criteria that society imposes for institutional survival.
When the business manager who is fully committed to this ethic is asked “What are you in business for..?”, the answer may be ” I am in this business for growing people” – people who are stronger, healthier, more autonomous, more self-reliant, more competent [and more happy]. Incidentally we also make and sell at a profit things that people want to buy, so we can pay for all this. We play that game hard and well and we are successful by the usual standards, but that is really incidental… We manage the business about the same way we always did. We simply changed our aim.
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