A question that businesspeople constantly ask themselves is: “How do we become more profitable?”
This is a valid question for people who live and function in the world of business, or who are involved in any form of organization that needs to be profitable in order to keep doing what it set out to do. But is this the right question to be asking? Is it really profit that needs to be focused on or should the question be, “What can we do that will make our organizations better?”
In my opinion it is a one-word answer—people. People are what keep organizations alive. Even in this age of technology, people cannot be replaced. People are the customers, consumers, and driving force behind every organization.
To illustrate this, I’ll reflect on my recent American summer (a South African winter) in Washington, D.C., where I had the opportunity to intern at one of the biggest and most influential organizations of the world, the World Bank. The most important particulars about the World Bank? How about: the 15,000 global staff members, the millions of people who benefit from the Bank, and the billions of dollars that people receive from it. Now remove the 15,000 staff members—there is no structure without them. Remove the millions of people who receive aid—no one receives benefits. Remove the billions of dollars that is created by people for people and there is no point of having an organization like the World Bank.
To build an organization around profit, you are playing a naive game. You have to build organizations around people. The better the people of the organization, the better the customers for the organization and in turn, the better the profits of the organisation. Putting profits ahead of people as a focus of any organization is like putting the carriage in front of the horse: it will move forward, but at a much slower and less beneficial speed.
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