26 August 2007

I'm tired, I'm curious, this is short

Does a company need to be good for you to want to be a part of it? Does this strike you as a vanity project or a pipe dream?

I'm not fishing for reassurance, so don't feel like you need to console me on this point.


Joel413 said...

Not really. But it does have to have something positive about it.

EGV said...

I suspect that's the answer for most folks. I'm finding that it simply isn't when it comes to my own needs.

One of the governing themes of my life is that wherever possible, anything that is a necessity should also be a pleasure. Since I must eat, I learned how to cook well. In fact I was sufficiently zealous about it that I went to culinary arts school, was asked to leave (for the best possible reason), and now I eat as well as or better than a king.

I don’t think that work should be any different than eating; I must work. Part of making work a pleasure is working somewhere I feel good about all the time and am exhilarated about at least some of the time.

A is A said...

I'm going to take a short nap; mull this and the negotiations post over a bit; formulate responses, and the post them a bit later; maybe in two hours or so.

Christopher said...

A company does not have to be good for me to work at it. But it does have to be good for me to be a PART of it. In my mind there is a very clear distinction.

EGV said...

Agreed - that's a clear distinction for me as well. I can tolerate working for a generally decent company but I don't want to be a part of anything less than a great company.

Of course, having said that I do own stock in a diverse set of companies, some of which I surely disapprove of. So I guess I can also tolerate that sort of passive participation in sub-stellar companies.

A is A said...

I really like what you said about anything that is a necessity should also be a pleasure. I definitely promote that idea as much as possible.

To respond to the original post more specifically, I would say that a company does have to be good for me to want to be a part of it. I don't believe I could work for a "bad" company. I've actually been employed by one or two organizations that tread that line and I didn't stay long.

I don't think I'd have a problem working for a "neutral" company, i.e. a company that doesn't really engage in any unsavory activities, but doesn't go out of it's way to be overly positive either. For that kind of company, the compensation level would exert greater influence.

The idea/goal is definitely not a pipe dream. I know I receive a lot of condescension for this opinion, but I believe there are a lot more good companies out there than the average person realizes. Studying dozens of case studies, good and bad, throughout my MBA program has led me to believe that even the business media overhypes the negative. I studied many companies I had never even heard of that were doing, or had done, tremendous things. Some even managed morally challenging situations in a just manner and with aplomb. Again, I realize that I'm often scorned for this belief, but I would be hard-pressed to find more than one or two people from my own MBA program who would wither under a serious ethical challenge. Most of them are very "stand-up" people, to coin a more vulgar phrase. I do understand that, as a part-time MBA program, the student demographics are somewhat different from a standard full-time program. But I also think that my classmates, on average, are likely be in decision-making positions more quickly due to added work experience. So, this was an ezcessively long and convulted answer to a simple question.

As for a vanity project, that's a bit hard to quantify. Vanity is defined as "excessive pride", so there must be an awareness of when pride reaches that point. Honestly, I doubt I would ever call this a vanity project, simply because, if it works as you hope, many other people will have a lot of pride in the result as well. If many other people take pride in it, you can easily be at least as proud as they are about it without being vain (because I don't think that can be considered excessive).

Anyway, my valiant attempt to avoid rambling is surely failing at this point.

One last thing, the crux of this whole discussion rests on an understanding of what is good and bad. That, in itself, is a perpetual challenge in many respects, and, I presume, will be addressed piece by piece thrughout the progression of the blog. No group of people will ever be in perfect agreement about what constitutes good and bad. So, a big challenge will be to generate enough agreement within the organization about what is good for people to rally behind. This is one reason why it's difficult for many businesses (and even NGOs), to promote very specific causes. For example, everyone would probably rally behind a fight against cancer. But if we get more specific, such as backing stem cell research to fight cancer, much of that support will become divided. Any business faces a similar challenge.

Damn, I simply can't shut up, can I?