People Will Be People

Let me share my story

The most dire concern I’ve received regarding THE COMMONS Business Model is that “people will be people.” That the idea of a socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing workplace environment is unrealistic. Won’t work.

Worse, I’ve been called an “academic.”

I want to tell you my story but I preface it with these editorial thoughts.

We live and work in a hostile world in which many of us have lost our sense of “community,” trust and respect for one another. That’s real.

Covid-19 is not only a wakeup call about the vulnerability of our health, but in our social, economic and political wellbeing. These are but a few of the reasons why America is the hardest hit of any of the nations in the world.

In spite of it all, I believe in people. And I have good reason.

The best and worst experience of my career came when I was the executive director of an NGO (non-governmental organization), an organ procurement organization (OPO) with the mission of saving the lives of people in need of an organ transplant.

I was in charge of a large staff of nurses spread out across the state. They were organ procurement coordinators who apparently had not found enough stress in their emergency rooms.

Now they had become true missionaries, standing by the victims of tragedy who were hooked up to emergency equipment for days and nights on end. Consoling loved ones while they waited for the patient to be declared brain dead. Helping families understand that their loss had been somewhat balanced by the deceased’s wish to be an organ donor.

I’ll never forget the night I went with a crew on a flight to Pittsburgh through violent thunderstorms to recover a heart from a young boy to save the life of a young girl, near death a thousand miles away.

These nurse-missionaries were the cream of humanity. They worked together, prayed together, consoled each other and cried together.

Yet, for me, it turned out to be the worst experience of my career.

I worked for a hostile board.

Because I am bound by a legal agreement, I cannot talk about that. But in my view, I served as a buffer between the power and the people, and I lost.

Water over the dam.

As you can see, my views are not academic. Been there, done that. And there is no question in my mind that people will be GOOD people when they work in a FRIENDLY environment where they are seen as assets, not liabilities.

Ultimately I mean when they are booked on the asset side of the balance sheet.

There is no question that my organ procurement nurses were exceptional. But it was because they believed in their mission — the organization’s mission. That ruled their behavior.

Now I suppose one solution for other organizations would be to transplant that altruism to other businesses near death. But that would be unrealistic.

Money, not altruism, is the greatest motivator in the world and capitalism is the greatest producer of wealth the world has ever known.

I submit:

  • When businesses truly serve a better purpose . . .
  • When people are treated as assets, not liabilities . . .
  • When teams work as collaborators, not chain gangs . . .
  • When profits serve the common good . . .

We will change mindsets, and we will have changed the game for the better.

A dream, you say? Not for me. I’m working to make it real.

You will never change my vision, mission, goals and objectives. But the strategies and tactics are open for better ideas. One man, one woman cannot do it alone. It will take a crowd.

Please join me.

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Not My EconomicsPeople Will Be People