Today I was hit over the head with a report titled, The Single Bottom Line, written by Daniel Altman and Jonathan Berman of the Dahlberg Global Development Advisors. After having read it, the accompanying story on the New York Times site, and Prof. Altman’s comment to others comments on the report (including one to me), I’ve come to the conclusion that we as a society need to embrace a little chaos in our lives. In a gist, the paper was written in support of a single bottom line using calculated formulas (CSV and CSR) for tying corporate goodwill activities to corporate profitability in the long term. I’m not going to go into details as it was painful to read the three times that I did (once at the author’s behest, which I did to see if I missed anything the first two times). Needless to say, I think that this penchant that we Americans have to only move in calculated manners that create benefit for us is both shortsighted and destructive. When goodwill is reduced to cost-to-benefit ratios, then we’ve gone too far off the spectrum of morality.
My question: How does one acknowledge that there are wonders in this world, if we no longer have a soul to use in order to admire those wonders?
We’re not little corporations running around, but living human beings with souls that need to be filled by creative approaches to problem-solving. Otherwise, we would be indistinguishable from robots. While visits to a multitude of forums for entrepreneurs show nothing but articles for regimentation and stereotype processes, there is only a small portion dedicated to embracing a more humanistic approach to productivity. The only way that we’ll get out of this maze that is now the business world is to break down the walls of economics, so that we hamsters (no disrespect intended – I’m also one) can become the little monsters that we’re meant to be.
The image that comes to my mind is the Pixar movie, Monsters Inc. My fascination with the world of creatures that go bump in the night came to life with this movie, and I will continue to thank Pixar for this wonderfully inspiring story with insanely eye-catching graphics. Yes, I do like to believe that there’s a little monster in each and everyone of us, and our monster’s identity is up to the individual. But the moral of the story is that little Boo (read worker) changed the talented and driven Sulley (read middle manager) through his acceptance of the unknown, while exposing the corporation for its slavish devotion to “power”. In reality, this could only happen if we choose to become more well-rounded in our knowledge to understand that economics and humanities can indeed co-exist in the same world.
This is where embracing chaos comes into play. The world out there is huge and diverse, so we need to spend time wallowing in its secrets to move past what we know. Read something different, drive down a different path. See with your heart what the brain can’t understand. Within chaos is the element for new life. Look out into the cosmos, if you need further proof. Our universe is created out of chaos. New stars are born from the stormy aftermath of old stars. Science continues to show that creation comes from unexpected places and ways that don’t fit calculations that we understand. Only when we finally choose to embrace the unknown without fear, can we foster a change to our society that is desperately needed. Fear can be a persuasive motivator to move past that which holds you back.
This doesn’t mean that we should be allowed to run amok. But think of all the wonderful experiences that you have when you just let go and let something happen. You can run all of the analytical models that you want. But in the end, we are more than just numbers. There are opportunities out there that are priceless because they’re can’t be logically calculated.