I recently gave a presentation on the third evolution of business, what I call the Spiritual Phase of organizations. (For more on this look for a future article to be published on our website.)
While many in the audience clearly understood how organizations have evolved from the Machine Phase to the Humanist Phase and we are at the early emergence of the next phase the Spiritual Phase, there were those who saw this as a rather egalitarian, socialistic, feel good state that has little to do with business. Business after all is about making money, making a profitable return for shareholders.
Well there are two comments I wish to make to this. First business is not about making money; business is about providing a good or service to a marketplace. To say business is about making money is like saying football is about getting touchdowns. No football is about moving the ball across the field against those who wish to defend against that movement. Touchdowns are merely the way we keep track of how well we did. Football is played on the field not on the scoreboard. Business is played in the marketplace, not on the income statement.
Having said that, I do believe that metrics is a critical part of business. And the two best metrics I have found for any organization is productivity and velocity. Productivity is a simple measure of capacity, how much goods and services I can provide the marketplace with the given set of resources I have. Velocity is the speed in which I can execute the plays required to bring the goods and services to the marketplace. Improving either of these metrics will give me a competitive advantage. Improving both of them will make me a winner every time.
It is actually my desire to find ways to improve these two parameters that has led me during my 40 years of leading and working with organizations, to the very understanding that the next wave in organizations will be the Spiritual Phase, the phase where ones actions have meaning and purpose and serve something more than the individual, the department, or even the company. And it is because of the capitalist desire for profits that this phase is emerging.