This post is inspired by the article of the same title in the June 6th to 12th edition of the Economist.
A group of Harvard Business MBA students have made attempts to turn management into a formal profession. Doctors have their oath, so do Lawyers. CEO’s have always had one too – except it isn’t nearly as flashy or encompassing as the other formal professions. “The only responsibility of business is to maximize profits” is hardly a mission statement to live by.
“..the students promised they would, among other things, ‘serve the greater good’, ‘act with the utmost integrity’, and guard against ‘decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions, but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.”
About half the class took the pledge. The purpose, of course, is most likely to distance themselves from the current gen of MBA CEO’s who have lived off the backs of consumers and are the root of the problem of the current economic crisis. Of course, detractors from the oath indicate there is no “bite” to it, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
“Defenders of the oath reply that the goal of maximising shareholder value has become a justification for short-termism and, in particular, rapid personal enrichment. They are concerend about managers doing things that drive up the share price quickly at the expense of a firm’s lasting health. Management gurus such as Jim ‘Good to Great’ Collins argue that shareholders are likely to earn better returns in the long run if firms are led by managers with integity and a desire to play a constructive role in society”
Loved that line in the read – because of it’s obvious truth. Jim Collins not only ‘argued’ the point above, but was able to demonstrate it over a long period of time through some great research that followed the top public companies that went “Good to Great” in comparison to those that did not. Of course, applying this to real life is still a ways away. I used to be heavily involved in Politics when I was younger – I dreamt of all the changes to yet another failed, redundant and inefficient system (goverment/party politics system) and worked my way into the Federal party and found out there were a lot of people like me. What becomes apparent though – quickly I might add – that in order to get into that position of “power” that would enable you to make those important changes you have to sell yourself off along the way. Once you get that power, you quickly learn that if you don’t listen to lobbyists and the guys funding the whole thing you will be out before you have the chance to make the change. What that boils down to is this – by the time you get into “power” to make positive change you are often a shadow of your former self. You will never be in a position of power for long enough to enact the changes that are needed – no matter how strong your vision is.
My point with that, while the MBA student’s pledge is definitely a step in the right direction, let’s see what happens when they have to go out, get a job, and have to make tough choices of doing the right thing for the company, or doing the right thing for their career. Will be a tough pickle.
So, all that being said – anyone care to draft up a MMO Developer’s Pledge Forswearing Greed?