There are two systems that I’ve been learning a lot about recently. One is culture – the system of values, norms, and traditions that informally or formally governs societies. The other is business – the system of commerce that codifies our public work, and has given rise to formal corporations. It has recently struck me that millions if not billions of dollars have been spent on finding out how best people may work within the context of corporations.
Leadership skills, employee wellness, and corporate culture, have all been studied. We’ve discovered ways to make goals more attainable and measurable, better ways to organize teams, and even what makes some businesses succeed in their endeavors while others fail.
Here’s the thing. It seems that very little of this information makes it into popular dialogue, and yet it seems that the structural social issues we are suffering from may be solved by the same discoveries that have allowed corporations like GE, GM, Toyota, and Google to become who they are.
There is at least one big difference here. Corporations are built for profit. That is their legal purpose. This is not the fundamental purpose of people. So when transferring the knowledge of the corporate world into the public sphere we must be keen to know the difference in goals.
Here’s one way of stating the question I’m pondering. What if everything we knew about how to work together to make a profit in the marketplace was put towards working together to care for one another?