Is making money a bad thing?

NotTheBigCompany.

No spaces.

That’s the phrase we use to define our workplace culture at PCI.  It’s our business philosophy.  Even how we live our lives.

“What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘the big company'”? 

That’s the question I ask our new hires on their first day of work.  Which we call “NotTheTypicalFirstDay@Work.” We have all our new hires start on the same day each month so we can deliver a “wow experience” and welcome them to PCI.

“What’s it like to interact with ‘the big company’?” I ask.  “Or, what would be different today if you were starting work at ‘the big company’?” 

“It would be more impersonal.”

“We’d spend most of our day filling out paperwork.”

“You’d feel like a number.  You are made to feel replaceable.”

“It feels like a big bureaucracy with lots of levels of management.”

“Red tape.  It’s hard to get stuff done.”

“You feel like nobody really cares.”

At some point, someone says, “We wouldn’t be meeting with the CEO.”

Probably not, I say.

“So, how did this happen?” I ask.  “Did they have a meeting at ‘the big company’ where they invited all the smartest people?  And someone said: ‘Hey, I know what we should do: let’s create an impersonal company where people feel like a number, where there’s lots of red tape, and nobody seems to care?  Who’s in favor?!?

“Is that how it went down?” I ask.  

Silence.

“Probably not,” I say.  “So, how did this happen?”

More silence.

“What’s the most important thing at ‘the big company,'” I ask.

“Money!” someone shouts. “Profits!”  “The bottom line!” 

“Hold on a minute,” I say.  “Is making money a bad thing?  What happens if a company isn’t profitable over time?”

“It goes out of business.”

“Exactly,” I say.  “It just like in our personal lives.  We all have bills to pay.  We’ve got a mortgage or rent payment.  A car payment.  Insurance payments.  A cable bill.  A phone bill.  

“What else?” I ask.

“Groceries!” someone says.  “Clothes!”  “Entertainment.”  “Trips!”

“It’s the same in business,” I share.  “If we aren’t profitable…  If we can’t pay our bills…  They turn out the lights.  Game over,” I say.  

“Making money is a good thing.  A very good thing.”

I pause.

“The trouble starts when making money becomes the only thing that matters.  That’s when companies do dumb things.  Cut corners.  Make decisions that maximize profits today but harm their customers.  Neglect training and R&D.”

There is a different way.

“What we’ve learned at PCI,” I continue, “is that if we pursue excellence purposefully…  If we unlock the human potential in our associates…  If we act with integrity…  If we innovate a culture of relationships and fun…  If we lead with a servant’s heart…”

“In other words, if we focus on our values…  If we do all things,” I say, “we’ll make plenty of money.” 
_______________________

Reflection:  List five decisions or actions a company could make which maximize profits in the short-term but harm long-term profitability.

Action:  Lead a discussion with your team or with a colleague about this topic.

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