A Means to Ends Sleight of Hand

Usually a business begins with an idea: An idea to deliver a product and/or service that meet the needs of people is the seed of a business enterprise.  As needs are satisfactorily met a share of market is realized along with it revenue with profit.  Share of market, revenue and profit are the material means that afford the organization the ability to continue meeting the needs of those it serves.  In turn, the enterprise will continue in its existence as long as the initial intent to provide to the needs of those it serves is the focus of its attention. Continue reading

Superficiality Won’t Suffice

How leaders—management in authority—respond to the question, what is the business of business, will likely pre-figure how they design and manage their organization.

If those in authority believe the business of business is profit then they will very likely organize and manage as if the world is their oyster. According to this system of thought, reality is a collection of objects (i.e. resources) and business is a tool—an instrument, a machine—for the purpose of exacting material gain from the assets or resources at hand. Resources include the people employed by the enterprise—objectified as labor.   I am sure you have heard or perhaps even spoken these words: our employees are our greatest assets!  Stop and think about this: Who really wants to be the useful tool of another? Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership

Since examples can illustrate successful action, many aspiring leaders often search for them to direct (their) action. And just as often those copying these examples fail.  Why?  Because they really don’t know what to copy!  There is rarely ever any critical thinking about the examples, so there is nothing learned from them.  In other words, applying examples absent of an understanding of the underlying theory teaches nothing!  Let’s illustrate as we critically think about a recent example.

In a New York Times Corner Office interview with Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga, interviewer Adam Bryant asked about leadership lessons learned.  Mark brought to light the importance of reliability, working as a team and getting everyone going in a productive direction especially when you are not physically present. Continue reading

Mind Before Money

Often those in authority within an organization—frequently referred to as ‘the leadership’—use the thing they believe is valued by most as a way of resolving a complex problem. That is, they throw money at it! While it does cost money to solve problems—energy is often expended—this does not mean that everything can be solved with the offering of money.  A recently announced U.S. government initiative clearly illustrates this common practice.

The U.S. government initiated The Race to the Top that essentially offers a bag of cash—$4.35 billion to be exact—to get the attention of those in authority of public education within each state. However, as noted in the Wall Street Journal, “the U.S. has been trying without much success to spend its way to education excellence for decades.” [It should be noted that although this amount is substantial, it is less than 1% of what is allotted for education nationally in a year.] Continue reading