Making money: Goal or result?

Once upon a time, the profit motive was clearcut and admirable. It was the job of business leaders to lead and wage slaves to feed the corporate machines that powered the great economic turbines of the West. That was progress. How times have changed. Even strategy guru Michael Porter now acknowledges that business affects a far bigger cast of characters, that something needs to shift. “Companies are widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community,” he says, flying the flag for “shared value”. Surely, though, the ultimate goal of corporations is to make money? Perhaps not, muses leadership author Steve Denning. “A growing number of companies have chosen a different goal,” Denning says. “They see their bottom line as something radically different. Delighting their customers through continuous innovation has become their bottom line. Making money is the result, not the goal, of their activities.” This change in management tack actually produces better financial outcomes, he argues, and leads to greater job satisfaction and productivity. Jules Peck, of Britain’s New Economics Foundation, says the mindset shift in corporates – from old thinking about growth-driven prosperity to new thinking about wellbeing – is noticeable. “CEOs in the UK and elsewhere are working hard behind the scenes to understand how they can evolve their business models so that their products, services and brands support maximum flourishing for their customers, workers and society at large,” Peck says. “There has been little indication until now that companies are really trying to understand the complexity and richness of the research on wellbeing, flourishing, positive psychology and welfare economics. But things seem to be changing.”

 

 

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