Every morning I have a ritual. I make my pot of coffee, sick my bread in the toaster, get the peanut butter and jelly ready (with a knife), and get my newspapers from the front porch, so when the toast is done and I coat it with PB & J, I can poor my coffee and sit down to read the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. After I read the local paper, I check my email, Facebook, Instagram, and other news feeds. Then I read the Wall Street Journal. I know it seems boring, but it is what I do every morning, along with my devotions.
This morning I saw something on Facebook that was pretty cool. Several of my previous students thanked their professors for helping them to think, so they could do good in the community. I was one of those professors they acknowledged. I have to say it made my morning. Therefore, it go me thinking about my phase three strategy. I am working on trying to clarify my actions after retirement. Although I don’t want to do phase three fulltime, I do want to have some fun, I want to continue making a difference in people’s lives so they can go out and change the world. I want to do that through Business As Mission.
Today though I want to focus on four traits of a strong BAM endeavor. I am basing my thoughts on a great book, Business As Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God by Michael Baer. I agree with him that there are four traits associated with a strong business. First, seeing your business as a high and holy calling. Second, to be great you must discover and execute the purpose of your business. Third, you must have a set of vital relationships. And fourth, you must run your business with operational excellence. Let me break those down a bit.
It seems sacrilegious to say that your business is the result of a high and holy call, but if we are called to a vocation of some sort, then doing that vocation as service to God somehow sanctifies it. The word I keep coming back to is stewardship. As a steward I have been given the responsibility to properly use whatever resources I have to the glory of God. My life, and everything I do with it, is a gift. As a gift, I am responsible to do with it whatever I can to make a difference. Thus, if I own a business, or if I am an intrapreneur, then I must do my best to complete the task. Thus it is a high and holy calling.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a well known Old Testament verse. It states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope.” This is one of those promises we hold on to when times are rough. There is some question to what this verse is referring to, but for the purposes of this paper, I am using it to make the point that if God has a purpose for each of us, then finding this purpose through inquiry and then executing a plan in line with the purpose is as point one states, a high and holy calling. The Alchemist said, “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Although this may not be completely true, I think it is important for us to find our purpose, but not just dream about it but do it. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan told us years ago that it takes discipline to get things done (Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done), therefore if we are true stewards we will fulfill our purpose.
As I stated a couple of blogs ago, I don’t think that anyone can make it alone. None of us is an island. Therefore, our success as Business people (wanting to make a difference in this world) is correlated with the number of strong relationships we have developed. There is an old Native American saying that we have two wolves warring within us. The one that we feed will be the strongest. This is true with our external relationships too. If we have strong ethical business people around us, we will be ethical businessmen and women, but if we have people around us that we don’t value and can’t trust that will detract from good business practices.
Lastly, if we want to create value in our communities as business people, then we need to run our businesses well. This means we practice proven business steps, treat our employees well, and remember that the customer is important. Whenever I think of operational excellence I think of Johnson and Johnson. In J&J’s company credo, which has served the company well since 1943, we see that J&J believes its first responsibility is to its customers, doctors, nurses, patients, mothers and fathers who use J&J’s products. Its second responsibility is to its employees, “the men and women who work with us throughout the world. . . We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate and working conditions clean, orderly and safe.” The credo goes on to mention how it is the company’s responsibility to listen to its employees.
I also think that operational excellence involves loyalty to the community in which the company is located. Hershey’s is an excellent example of operational excellence. However, it is because of its operational excellence it can give back to the community. In 2015 alone Hershey’s employees volunteered for more than “98,000 hours at local non-profits, raised over $400,000 for Children’s Miracle Network and donated another $1.3 million to the United Way.” They would not be able to do this without operational excellence.
I used a phrase earlier, value creation. I’d like to define it. Value creation is first relational. It involves people working together to improve how we interact. Second, it is about having money left over to be able to do something good with. People are paid enough money to take care of their families, who in turn take care of their communities, who in turn take care of those who don’t have the same opportunities. What I am describing is in part what Business As Mission is all about. I am sold on Business As Mission, and I believe that as a Christian it is my responsibility to recognize my high and holy calling, to execute the purpose I have found, develop the best relationships I can, and do everything to the best of my ability. I intend to accomplish this, and I hope you will too.
And that is my thought for the day!