An excellent summary of the best principles for making organizations effective today by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman at Google. And here’s his book, How Google Works.
Gary Vaynerchuk starts his book The Thank You Economy in a way that illustrates this truth perfectly:
I’ve been living the Thank You Economy since a day sometime around 1995, when a customer came into my dad’s liquor store and said, “I just bought a bottle of Lindemans Chardonnay for $5.99, but I got your $4.99 coupon in the mail. Can you honor it? I’ve got the receipt.”
The store manager working the floor at the time replied, “No.”
I looked up from where I was on my knees dusting the shelves and saw the guy’s eyes widen as he said, “Are you serious?”
The manager said, “No, no. You have to buy more to get it at $4.99.”
As the man left, I went over to the manager and said, “That guy will need come back.”
I was wrong about that; he did come back. He came back a couple of months later — to tell us he would never shop with us again.
Now, I wasn’t any nicer than this manager, nor have I ever been a softie when it comes to business. However, though I was young and still had a lot to learn, I knew deep in my gut that he had made the wrong call.
The manager believed he was protecting the store from a customer trying to take advantage of it; all I could see was that we had missed an opportunity to make a customer happy.
My post today for The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.
Here’s the beginning:
When we think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, we tend to think of the importance of charity and giving to those in need. That is one of the chief points Jesus is making. But is it possible that the parable might have something to say about work and business as well?
A Sequel to the Good Samaritan
We are all familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and falls among robbers. Two religious people see him and pass by, but a Samaritan stops to help (and, it might be added, helps him generously and holistically).
One of the main lessons is: your neighbor is anyone in need. Now, go about the world looking to meet needs, treating others the way you would want them to treat you.
With this in mind, in his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller encourages us to consider a “sequel” to the parable. Imagine that the next day the Samaritan is traveling the road again, and comes across another person bleeding on the side of the road. A few weeks later, this happens again. And then again.
As it turns out, every time he makes the trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, he comes across another person laying in the road. Then he looks up, and sees hundreds of people likewise lying along the road, beaten and robbed. What should he do?
A good point from Michael Novak:
Worse still, experience teaches, religious leaders speak inadequately about business — more so than about almost anything else they preach on. Their professional vocabulary, for the most part, so misses the point that it is painful to listen to them….Those whose religious and moral vocation in life is played out in one of the many fields of business get little enough help, then, from those they would normally turn to for instruction.
Let’s change this!
From the latest issue of Fast Company. Here’s the summary:
A treasure trove of unearthed interviews, conducted by the writer who knew him best, reveals how Jobs’s ultimate success at Apple can be traced directly to his so-called wilderness years.
By the way, if you aren’t a subscriber to Fast Company, you need to be. It gives the best insight on the new world of work, and shows how work is not supposed to be boring or constrained.
You won’t regret subscribing, and there’s no excuse not to. And, you need to subscribe to the actual physical magazine, because it is much more fun than just reading it online (and it’s easier to remember, in my view at least). Plus, with any print subscriptions you now get their iPad app so you can read it digitally each month if you prefer.
The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics recently wrote:
On March 14, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of The New York Times. He described a culture that had become “toxic” and outright callous to the interests of the firm’s clients.
The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) saw the news of his resignation as a teaching moment. Without taking sides, we sought to point out the important and often misunderstood difference between greed and legitimate self-interest.
Their visiting scholar, Jay Richards, and Vice President of Economic Initiatives, Anne Bradley, did this in a very helpful and brief op-ed for The Washington Times. Here’s an excerpt:
On Wednesday, Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation in the pages of theNewYorkTimes. His reasoning: The company’s employees and culture have morphed into a gross entity that sidelines the interests of the client in favor of making a quick buck. By his account, Goldman Sachs‘ culture has become “toxic and destructive.” Mr. Smith no longer wants to be associated with the Wall Street giant. “People who care only about making money,” he argues, “will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.”
Amen! To care only about money is not only unbiblical; it is also — contrary to what many people think — out of sync with capitalism. Contrary to the 80’s movie “Wall Street,” greed isn’t good, and never has been. Greed does not drive the free market, but actually ruins it. What drives the free market is legitimate self-interest — which is very different from greed. Richards and Bradley explain:
This paradoxical biblical principle, that self-denial is in our self-interest, is also an important economic principle. The greedy miser who hoards his wealth closes himself off to greater economic gains. And in a free market, the greedy merchant who swindles his customers is not likely to maintain profitability.
On the other hand, if we seek to meet the needs of others – whether we are hedge-fund managers or plumbers – we are likely to reap personal benefit. Great entrepreneurs who risk their wealth, delay their gratification and successfully anticipate the needs of others can become fabulously successful as a result.
This is the beauty of the free market: It harnesses our narrower self-interest for the common good. Markets bring together the most willing suppliers with the most willing demanders, and exchange takes place. You freely pay the grocer for groceries, he freely sells them, and you both end up better off than you were before.
My friend Lukas Naugle, who is a principal at Marketplace One, has written an excellent, super informative, well reasoned article summarizing some of the main insights he recently gained from reading a few dozen books on faith and work.
It’s called The Faith-Work Frankenstein’s Monster. Here’s the gist:
Those who haven’t gained a full-orbed view of the integration of faith and business are still the majority, and they come in various shapes and sizes. Here are some of the faith-work Frankenstein’s monsters I’ve met, and how to avoid releasing a monster yourself.
And here’s one of the best parts (among many others):
It’s important to affirm that business activity has intrinsic value in God’s world, not just instrumental value. Unfortunately, many faith leaders seem to focus on the instrumental value of business. The boss, the client, the church, and perhaps even the family often can treat the businessperson like a tool. We love to be useful to people, and our instrumentality is meaningful, but it’s not healthy to be a tool. Tools are manipulated, abused, demeaned, and wear out over time. A vision of mere instrumentality often leads to the erosion of meaning and motivation in a person’s work.
If you recognize yourself in one of the “monsters” he describes at the beginning, don’t fear. Keep reading to gain a well-articulated, biblical correction to many approaches to integrating faith and work that have some elements of truth, but ultimately fall short.
A good article in the Wall Street Journal on what’s ahead for Virgin Galactic:
By next Christmas the airline mogul could be ferrying paying customers outside the atmosphere — and, later, to the bottom of the ocean.
Godin gets this right:
There are a few reasons to tolerate the customer who makes unreasonable demands:
- You promised you would
- She helps you raise your game
- Her word of mouth is very powerful
- The cost of frequently figuring out which customers to fire is too high compared to the cost of putting up with everyone
It’s probably worth firing a customer if:
- He willfully corrupts your systems at a cost to other customers
- Your employees are prevented from doing their best work in the long run
- His word of mouth can’t be changed or doesn’t matter
- He distracts you from delighting customers that are reasonable
In general, organizations are afraid to fire customers, no matter how unreasonable. This is a mistake. It’s good for you.
Chip and Dan Heath’s latest book, The Myth of the Garage, just came out last month and is available on the Kindle. It’s a collection of their best Fast Company columns. Here’s part of the description from Aamazon:
In Myth, the Heath brothers tackle some of the most (and least) important issues in the modern business world:
• Why you should never buy another mutual fund (“The Horror of Mutual Funds”)
• Why your gut may be more ethical than your brain (“In Defense of Feelings”)
• How to communicate with numbers in a way that changes decisions (“The Gripping Statistic”)
• Why the “Next Big Thing” often isn’t (“The Future Fails Again”)
• Why you may someday pay $300 for a pair of socks (“The Inevitability of $300 Socks”)
• And 12 others . . . Punchy, entertaining, and full of unexpected insights, the collection is the perfect companion for a short flight (or a long meeting).