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6 Responses to “A Wink and a Nod”

  1. Chris Harness says:

    Sorry. When Mr Ford created the assembly line, his primary and ultimate goal was profit and profit only. The turn of the century “companies” purposely impoverished thier workers (mostly immigrants)in order to create a society of serfs they could exploit…for max profit. Let’s also not forget how we construted the trans-continental railroad. I think Professor Trachtenberg is a victim of nostalgic misinterpretation.

    Another institution had to be formed, unions, to successfully combat that immoral exploitation. Of course, that institution now has immoral people in it grabbing for as much money as they can pry from companies like Ford and GM as well as from the workers they represent.

    This is a world full of evil people that, when left to thier own devises, will do evil things. In everything they do including thier business dealings. The challenge is to create a society that rewards ethical actions and punishes unethical ones. If, like you say, winning is the metric and players are not benched if they violate the rules, you have wink-wink, nod-nod society.

    So how do you change college football so that more than just winning is measured and valued?

    I love your blog and I miss the well!

  2. George Hepburn says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree with your Mission/Purpose statement. DSI’s mission relates to what we do, and our purpose relates to a higher calling on how we impact the lives we touch. What makes this most interesting is when you start a project, such as building a new dynasplint or planning for a new facility to be our corporate headquarters. What you see competing in the planning committee, is the tension created by opposing factions. The first faction represents squeezing every dollar to make the most short term profit( although short term can mean a long time of 10-20 years) vs. the second faction goverened more by doing the right thing. People on design teams sometimes have a difficult time understanding when you decide to spend more money than you absolutely have to in order to create a better outcome having its pupose be something beyond the simple construct of the project itself. For instance, just making a buiding so that it adequately will house a business for 20 years can lead to an entierely different design and budget, then if you think in terms of that building’s impact on not only the people working inside the business it holds, but also its impact on the surrounding community, the environment and what it will look like and reperesent after it serves its initial 20 year purpose-period. If the major industries built along the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay had thought more in those terms 50-100 years ago, I doubt our bay clean-up work would be so laborious and bleak as it is today.

  3. Mike Metzger says:

    Hi George:

    Outstanding points. You make a great point of holding the twin competing tensions of doing well (profits) and doing good (corporate culture). Like a clothesline that needs two posts held in tension against one another to support any weight, so too an organization needs to hold purpose and mission in tension.

    Again, well said.

  4. Brody Bond says:

    EXCELLENT. Right on.

  5. Brody Bond says:

    I’ll tweet this for you… unless you object 😉

  6. MH says:

    I thought that the real reason the high school coach exhorts “no ladies or liquor” BEFORE the game was that all the players and coaches know that if the do win, they get ladies and liquor AFTER the game. nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

    BTW, there are lots of companies who are large and profitable, and simultaneously attempt to also have purpose. Sometimes the constraints of the industry make it harder to have an obviously moral and good purpose, but it is still there. Someone has to clean toilets or haul trash, which can be done ethically, but…

    And don’t underestimate the value of profit. Profit is what keeps a company in business, which is what lets it provide work and income for people and thereby participate in the economic, social, and moral system of the society. This is true even if the people aren’t creatively stimulated at work. God made work, and he also created us as beings meant to orgnize into societies. If a company is not profitable, it cannot succeed either in providing work or in participating in the social system. So I suppose that while there is tension between profit and purpose, purpose without profit will not carry a business anywhere — so the purpose will be pointless.

    Moral and ethical behavior should not be a purpose, it should just be a basic assumption. We might start a company with the purpose of unleashing the creativity of its workers, or of cleaning up the bay, or whatever; but we would not seek to start a company with the purpose simply to “act ethically.” Acting ethically isn’t a purpose, it is just an adverb clause modifying the part about how we will go about accomplishing our purpose – whatever that purpose may be.

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