Sunday, July 13, 2003

Still following the money (but looking for the train of thought....)

Perhaps I overstate the case. No one really ignores the numbers in a business. In fact lots of business people don't merely attend to them; they anthropomorphize, reify (which means, to regard something abstract as a material thing and in so doing distort its very nature) or even deify them. The numbers become more important than the economic engine of which they are a by-product. Keep in mind that the numbers are as much outcome variables as they are input variables. Yes, you input (invest) money, but that is merely the most easily quantifiable investment. The most important "things" you invest in a business (time, passion, energy, ideas) are much harder to measure.

Those with backgrounds in finance might assert that it's best to "manage by the numbers." This world view could best be described as a form of wishful thinking wherein one assumes it is possible to wield power and control over life's vicissitudes if one is only smart/disciplined enough to figure out and enact the formula. Of course, mad and reckless spending, investing, and saving are ill-advised--who doesn't know that?

But I digress. In the field of organizational development, we have a different problem. In contrast to finance types, many of my pals in the OD field believe it's all about relationships, group process, or other economics-free theoretical models wherein the recommended 'treatments' ultimately devolve to a Baba Ram-Dassian "be here now" experience of life, coupled with National Training Labs (NTL) group process methods and a slew of self-awareness techniques that assume once a person "owns up" to whatever their hangups are, the truth will set them free.....except, for the most part, it doesn't--especially in a corporate setting where it is more likely to get you fired.

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