7.27.2004

Christian Business Critique Needed

Okay, here is a rough draft of some of our intial "company creeds" or "core values" or "Christian principles", if you will.  I would love any feedback you guys might offer so that I can take it into discussion further with the board.  These will serve as the "filter" by which all the 'how' questions of our actions must reflect.  I'll get to be part of kicking ass when we're not doing it well.  :) 1. We make commitments carefully, and honor them fully. 2. We honor our employees and partners as the company‚Äôs most valuable assets. 3. We honor our vendors and creditors. 4. We provide high-quality products and services at a fair price. 5. We cultivate leadership and teamwork. 6. We submit to accountability. 7. We define success in terms of economic-, social- and political capital. 8. We balance short-, long- and eternal term investment.

5 Comments:

Blogger John McCollum said...

what exactly is your product or service?

7/27/2004 3:29 PM  
Blogger e said...

This sounds good, but I wonder what it looks like in practical application. For instance--

#6: what does "accountability" look like? Are you accountable to pastors? other business people? each other? if "all of the above," how do you work that out?

#7: success to what end? until everyone has a Lexus? until you have enough to put TV-dinners on the table? What is the price of this success? Are 80-hour work weeks out of the question?

#8: What is an example of each kind of investment? What takes priority? Does an "eternal" investment, like selling everything and giving it to the poor take a back seat to "short-term" financial success? How do you interact with your competitors? Do you strive to be the best--and by best does that mean beating their prices no matter what?

I suppose I'm just wondering what the practical applications are of each of these points. They each sound like really good ideals, but aren't that distinctive from core values of most other "christian" or even non-Christian companies. The working out of what these things state is really where the sheep and the goats separate.

For example: maybe you set concrete goals for each one such as--"we'll not sue any client for any reason." Or "we'll not accept working overtime unless the entire company agrees to it on special occasions." Or "we won't sell a product built by exploited workers overseas." Or "making money will never take priority over the well-being of our employees so we're going to put aside money from everyone's paychecks to help defer the costs of healthcare for the employees who need it most." Or "we're all going to take turns doing the dishes and mopping the floors." Or "every Friday we'll buy donuts for the entire office." Or "we're specifically going to target non-profit organizations and give them an excellent product at a price they can afford vs. the higher price we could charge for-profit companies."

But these eight statements are good starting points. I'd be curious to see what the rest of the Christian businessmen think.

7/28/2004 9:26 AM  
Blogger brad said...

Good questions!
John, our "product" is small companies. Our company is going to be the technical arm of an affiliation of businesses within an umbrella organization that will purchase small fledgling companies, make them productive again, and either keep or sell them. The CEO of our arm is my friend Jeff who'll be overseeing the technology end of things.

E, you're right, man, that's the rub. We have a private blog set up for in-house debate with the executives and all of us, the board, to flesh this out. It's pretty intense at times.
But generally:
Accountability is mainly in-house; our advisory board has no stake in the company. We are Christians wanting to do business well, we are asked for accountability and counsel.
Success is not about profit, though profit is a measure of success; Peter Drucker wrote that a fundamental of business is to make good customers and profit should measure how you're doing. I'm not sure the whole board thinks quite that way, but that's what I'm bringing to the table. "Customer" I think of broadly through subsidiary rings of responsibility that are all intentional focuses of the company.
Balance is a debate, but generally speaking, we look at all as equal commitments to be honored. Down the road, we'd like to have a daughter philanthropic organization to administer the "eternal term" investments.
As for "beating prices no matter what?", I can't see this board allowing that attitude.

7/28/2004 11:53 AM  
Blogger John McCollum said...

Brad--

This link may help...

7/28/2004 1:03 PM  
Blogger John McCollum said...

Hint: click reload many times.

7/28/2004 2:17 PM  

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