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Re-Focus on the Real

The most important and fundamental aspect of business is the end result. Few business professionals would argue this assertion. Differences enter with the definition of the end result. Is the result the financial bottom line? Many heads are nodding. Is the end result the affect your job, your company, your organization has on you and your family in terms of your  compensation, social dynamics and colleaguial relationships? More heads are nodding with mutters of "all the above." I sugest all factors are mentioned are extremely important, especially to affected individuals. Yet the end result of business is the sum total of the impact products and services have on the customer, consumer and the world. This "final analysis" impact is understandably swept aside allowing business professionals to focus on self, family and not much else. We must broaden our thinking.

Consider the case of Bill, CEO of a large electronics corporation based in the US and operating in 12 countries. Bill had a Harvard MBA, impeccable background and had worked his way up the ladder for 15 years. Bill was named CEO by the board. In the first year of his leadership the company increased profits significantly. Bill was on his way to being a very successful CEO. Then the unthinkable happened. One bright tuesday morning unique only in that Bill had an hour of office time instead of a full slate of meetings, the FBI arrived at Bill's office door, confiscated files and informed Bill all company operations were suspended pending the results of an investigation into links between the companies' distribution system and ties to an international drug cartel. After 3 years the investigation did not find wrongdoing on Bill's part but did cite him for lack of oversight of international operations in countries known to be hotbeds of drug smugling. While no charges or other negative legal repercussions ensued, Bill's caeer was effectively over. If we think a bit, Bill's case may be more dramatic than most, but not rare. Most CEO's at some point are called into question by the board, stockholders, consumers who experienced significant harm in using the company's products or services. Outside of the CEO office, few of us in the corporate/organizational world experince the impact of the end result of the company's business. Ironically, the CEO position is probably one of the least aware of the details of any part of the company's operation.

Let's play "what if". What if, everyone in a company keenly felt responsible for the way the company impacted the world in which it operated? What if communication flowed freely in a corporation allowing perceptions, concerns, fears of consumer damage to easily surface and be really heard at the lowest level of the hierarchy? OK. Perhaps the notion is fool's gold. Let's start small.

Try this experiement. Listen to the chatter of your company at whatever level you hear. Assume at least 50% is based on something true. You may have a few really rotten days as you come to grips with all this new information. Hold on. Only half has any basis in fact. Now, pick your spots. Identify one or two items on the grapevine that have the potential to blow into something fairly nasty for the company. Investigate gently to the extent you can.If your investigations indicate further exploration may be necessary, go to the colleague you most trust and have conversation. If your colleague concurs that there may a significant issue in the works, begin surfacing details, facts, concers up the ladder. You will run into a strong "no, leave it alone" at some point. When that happens you have found the "pinch point" of thye issue. Now you have to decide. If you choose to walk away -- be sure you walk away clean. Do not walk away looking over your shoulder thinking you will come back to this problem at some point. Walk away knowing you will not pursue the matter any farther and you are comfortable  with your decision. If you decide to continue, you have reached the point of value that allows you to see something of the end result of the business. Congratulations and good luck!

As a way of life in the business community, we must examine the factors in our orgaizations that help or hinder clear observation of thye end result. Beyond any individual risk that may or may not be in our future, we must conside the long-term impact of our every day actions.Think about just about any topical issue from the Middle East to the economy to the state of education in the US. All these issues and more could have been solved at some earlier point when the effects were not so systematically devastating. Let's solve these matters when they are solvable instead of letting them become a worldwide condition.