Sunday, May 31, 2015

Business with Humanity in Mind

I have both a personal blog and a professional blog.  It is usually pretty clear to me which blog an entry belongs in.  For this one, I debated.

I don't usually think of writing about the Roman Catholic mass at which my middle was confirmed as a professional blog topic.  So, let me share a few of the interesting personal details and then give three quick lessons that tie over professionally.

First, this was by far the most inspirational Confirmation mass I'd ever experienced.  That includes my own many, many years ago, and about five or six I played for at St. Pius X over the years including my oldest son's confirmation.  Why was it so inspirational?  My youngest son was involved in ushering and helping to make sure the mass ran smoothly.  My oldest son is--as I am--an alumnus of the musical group that plays and no longer plays with them at our church, but did come to see his brother get confirmed.  And a young woman whose singing I have heard off and on for almost a decade gave the most beautiful solo for a song Sacred Silence I'd ever heard.  Plus, the gentlemen who had led this group of youth getting confirmed at the start of their journey and who had passed away in December was remembered in a wonderful way.  All inspiring enough.

But then the three other things that link to professional experiences.

First, I received the wine as part of the Eucharistic celebration from a young woman whom I had taught in religious education years ago.  It is a sign of how long I have been part of the parish.  It is a sign that the kids I taught are not just "growing up" but truly maturing.  Coming into their own.  And seeing the process is amazing.  I have helped doctoral and masters students through their studies.  I have mentored undergraduates at my undergraduate alma mater.  But this has been a year to see one of my old religious education students first become a lector and then become a Eucharistic minister.  It shows how being a part of one organization for so long can give a perspective on the growth and development of the organizations and those within it that just can't be appreciated in a year or two.  And when I appreciate the long term perspective, it also makes me think of the range of stakeholders, and to being to practice what the Dean of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School calls "business with humanity in mind."  I like to summarize it as realizing that there can be a lot of humanity that can be affected by business decisions other than the most immediate stakeholders, i.e. customers and owners.

Second, the idea of the sacrament of Confirmation in the Roman Catholic church is about making a big commitment.  And as I think about business and business with humanity in mind, I think about commitments.  Becoming an entrepreneur is a commitment.  Becoming any type of professional is a commitment.  Becoming a leader is a commitment.  Sharing idea--commitment.  Everything about being successful requires commitment.  And thinking about business as not just focusing on the bottom line but focusing on all the stakeholders including the customers, the employees, the community immediately around the business, and the entirety of humanity requires a commitment.

Third, my son got a "shout out" from the Bishop at mass.  He was one of at least two who in their letters to the Bishop mentioned the feeding the homeless service experience.  This service experience exposed the youth in our parish to problems in the city.  These are not exactly the same problems that led to the recent unrest in Baltimore, but the roots of at least some of the problems are the same.  The gentlemen who had started the journey toward Confirmation with this year's class but passed away half way through told the children after the service experience--you fed these people today, but who will feed them tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year?  In part, there is a service answer to this question.  But in part, there is a business with humanity in mind answer to this question.  Why are there not jobs?  Why are there not economic opportunities?  Why are opportunities lacking for these people?  And what is the meaning of business?  What is the role?  How can we who train future business leaders and the current and future leaders find ways to create economic opportunities in these areas?  How can business consider all the stakeholders and help everyone?  Is it ultimately business's responsibility?  No. There is charity and there is government.  But if business stays only at the sideline and does not figure out how to contribute, there will be something missing.  At least some of the solutions to the problems that we see in the world are, in fact, ones that business can solve if we have creative leaders who can find ways to convince others of the value of their ideas, secure resources, and move themselves and those working for their organizations ahead.  

So, this year's confirmation mass illustrated three important ideas for business with humanity in mind--seeing the long horizon that gives a different and more informed perspective on the full scope of stakeholders, making a commitment to something, and having business as part of the solution to the problems of society--not just a cause of problems in society.   

No comments:

Post a Comment