This weekend I have spent a lot of time thinking about how we can build the business program at Warner Pacific College. Over the last few years we have improved the program and made it stronger. It has resulted in stronger students, and a better effort all around. However, we cannot declare victory too soon, exclaiming we have arrived. We are nowhere near where we need to be.
My fear is we will lose focus. Therefore I propose we learn a huge lesson from Steven Jobs. In Jobs’ biography there is a moment where he discusses his philosophy of business. His mission, according to this book, was to “build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products.” This is the one common denominator of all successful companies, a great product. Companies decline when the passion for creation is replaced with the greed for gain.
Jobs describes this as a process where revenue generation becomes more important than quality. To get the revenue the company is taken over by sales personnel. These individuals have no idea what the product is all about, and don’t even care. They just want to make a sale and get their bonus. The product people feel neglected and the passion to produce dies.
It seems to me that this makes sense. We can also apply this to cost control and maintaining a particular level of profit margin. We create a great product, we sell it, and gain profit. We want to make more money so we place accountants in charge who only look at numbers and not product or people.
Don’t get me wrong, I see the importance of sales, and I see the importance of cost control, but if we forget why we are in business to begin with, we will lose focus. I am more convinced than ever that this is key to our recovery.
We need to regain our focus and passion. It isn’t greed that will create recovery, nor is it value management. It is creating new products, with fantastic innovations, that will pull us out of our numbness. Oh and by the way, this entrepreneurial spirit may just reverse the income disparity in this nation and postpone the 2012 recession.
According to Business Week, “since 1980 about 5 percent of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation’s richest households. This means the wealthiest 5,934 households last year enjoyed an additional $650 billion beyond what they would have had if the economic pie had been divided as it was in 1980.” Economists used to say that income equality and growth cannot be emphasized at the same time. They are now changing their minds. The greater gulf between the haves and have nots is now being recognized as having serious consequences on our nation’s future. The National Bureau of Economic Research states that the average postwar economic boom lasted 4.8 years. Our current boom/expansion, if you want to call it that, is about 27 months long. Therefore, argues Business Week, that this current economic expansion will end during the first quarter of 2012, leading to another recession. A little scary.
They end the article with a poignant statement:
“Expansions fizzle sooner in less equal societies because they are more vulnerable to both financial crises and political instability. When such countries are hit by external shocks, they often stumble into gridlock rather than agree to tough policies needed to keep growth alive.”
It is time to stop taking and start doing. Let’s get back to work.
And that is my thought for the day!