Piggy bank

The Goal

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Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all on the same page and just did things right…

I spent several years of my life in business school. I’m not completely sure why, but people around me seemed to think it was a good idea at the time. Like others before me, I occasionally look back and wonder what I learned in all those years of school. Truth be told, there’s not much, but I had one professor who drilled into his students the answer to a single question – what is the goal of a business?

“If there’s one thing you take from this class, it’s this…”, he would say over and over. It was self-fulfilling, I suppose, because I feel like that’s the only thing I learned from his class, and, perhaps, my entire time at the school.

So what is the goal* of a business? It’s really very simple. The goal of (virtually) any business is to make money.

Harsh? Listen, I’m a customer service guy. As my friend Heather Dopson puts it, “I would walk through broken glass for my customers”, so when I say a business exists for the purpose of making money, I realize it sounds like I’ve sold my soul for a Beamer and a pair of shiny cufflinks, but that’s not what’s going on here. I’m not saying you can’t put some rules in place (read: morality) to guide you. It’s important, however, for us to understand that we share the same ultimate goal.

Whether you’re in IT, Marketing, Customer Service, or something else entirely, your function exists to serve that same goal. In other words, as much as it might not feel like it sometimes, you and every one of your coworkers are on the same team.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in your organization realized that? Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone played nice and didn’t get offended when differing opinions brought on totally reasonable and necessary arguments? Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone shared the same budget onto which they applied rational self-restraint? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all just “did the right thing”?

Well, I may be a corporate hippy, but I know that’s not happening any time soon. I’ve accepted that we’re all different, and there’s genuine value in those differences. I do believe, though, that we’d all be in a better place if each person in our respective organizations took time every once in a while to remember that every executive, intern, and middle manager is there for the same reason. The tough part is figuring out how you and your department fit properly into the larger puzzle. What do you need to do to support your side of the business? Should you be selling, or should you be serving? Are those two things as mutually exclusive as they seem?

I’ll give you a hint… they’re not.


*My professor, whose name I don’t recall, made us all read The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. I’m not the type to recommend lots of books, but it wasn’t too bad, and it’s only fair I give it credit since I stole the title for this post.

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