Make Sense [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I told Kerri she was going to be fired two years before the ax fell. I needed no crystal ball and was not reading tea leaves. In my consulting life I’d seen it happen a few dozen times. When a not-for-profit organization promotes to leadership those who believe everything needs to run like a business, the people holding fast to the actual purpose and mission of the organization have to go.

It makes sense if you think about it. Profit is the purpose of a business. When profit is the purpose, the organizational structures and levers-of-power evolve according to the purpose: profit. People are expendable.

There’s a reason arts organizations, churches, educational institutions,…are called not-for-profit. They serve a different purpose. The organizational structures and levers of power evolve according to the central purpose: service. The creation of art. Learning. Health. Feeding the hungry. Helping the victims of disaster. Worship. The people, usually not well-paid, are dedicated to the deeper organizational mission. Not profit. The people are not expendable. In fact, they are the keepers of the flame. They are very hard to come by.

The quickest way to kill a service organization is to apply the power-levers of business. The purpose dies. The good people – the keepers of the organizational heart – have to be fired, whipped into compliance, silenced, or forced to leave. It’s not rocket science. That process takes a few years.

It’s sometimes hard for us to make sense of what’s happening in our nation and world yet the same principles that apply to organizations also apply to countries. The purpose of healthcare is not profit. The purpose of education was never supposed to be profit. We currently have in our vernacular phrases like “predatory lending” – people making millions from students who believe the dream is only accessible through higher education. It’s the message embedded in our mythology. The levers of business have twisted our vision. Just as prisons should never be money makers, healthcare-as-a-business obliterates the purpose. It profits a few. It crushes the many.

Apples cannot be oranges. Make sense?

What’s happening in our nation makes perfect sense. Big business, regularly bailed out or given tax breaks to the tune of billions of dollars, is protected. No questions asked. Yet, try to correct a corrupt lending scheme, a successful (highly profitable) application of business levers to education, built on the backs of working people trying to go to school, and the “it-has-to-run-like-a-business” crowd will move heaven and earth to keep profit at the center of the mission. Our education system, once the best in the world, is spiraling. Ridiculous. It’s inevitable when protecting the interests of business supersedes serving the purpose.

We may find our way through, we might return to our senses, when we stop pretending that business is somehow sacred, that the making-of-money is moral and a proper north star for all things. It is not. It is great for some things. It is devastating, senseless, for the most important things.

read Kerri’s blogpost about SENSE

One Response

  1. […] read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY […]

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