It's lately become fashionable amongst those whose job it is to sit in a tank and think to pronounce on the need for businesses to develop (or renew) a sense of purpose, above and beyond the simple goal of making money.
I have some sympathy with this point of view. But I think it misses a bigger truth - the need for businesses to develop (or renew) a sense of morality.
Far too many businesses- IMHO- act at best, amorally, at worst immorally.
We can debate where the examples below fall on that scale. Surely though, we can't debate whether they're good or bad. Yet these are all common day occurrences, specific to me, but no doubt familiar to you;
Many of these scenarios are, of course, first world problems or not worth a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things, but to me they speak to a first world in which businesses- and the people that work within them- have forgotten (or perhaps never learnt in the first place) the difference between right and wrong.
They act as though the only right is making money.
That the ends justify the means.
They do to others as they wouldn't be done by.
This is the culture we live in.
In our post-religious world (at least for the elites in the prosperous powerful parts), there is no shame in the temporal here and now or the ethereal ever after. There is no judgement, other than that of the bottom line.
Every day we seem to be sinking further and further into a deep morass of bad behavior. Immoral behavior. Every day sinful wrongs seem to be further normalized. Every day our expectations that businesses (and the people that work within them) are sharks and not to be trusted are further reinforced.
Every day we inch closer to living in Pottersville, not Bedford Falls.
Speaking of which, it is almost Christmas so time for the annual viewing of It's a Wonderful Life.
While you watch it, snoozing after stuffing yourself with stuffing, ponder on the thought that the great opportunity and challenge of building the future of work is to make that work good work. Good, not only in the sense of being fun and profitable, but in the sense that the little boy whose life some will be celebrating on December 25th meant it.
My new year's wish is that businesses (and the people that work within them) will develop or renew a sense of right and wrong. Of doing the right thing, not just because it's good for business, but because it's simply right.
I further hope that this moral renaissance becomes more than organizational virtue signaling paraded in the fashionable salons of Davos and Aspen.
If we are to have a future of work that is more than just survival in a dog eat dog- or bot eat bot- jungle we need to recommit ourselves to our better angels, not our worst.
That is the message of the season, for all seasons- whether told by Jesus. Or Clarence. That we must remember. Or learn for the first time.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Good New Year.