Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Choose Your Spiral"

In an article on "The Sales Whisperer" blog, "Catholic Networker" Wes Schaeffer tells us to "Spiral Upward" to reach our goals.  That's not bad advice — and it's free, just for clicking on the link. You don't have to be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, or anything other than someone with common sense to take advantage of it, either.

As an additional bonus, you can pretty much stretch this metaphor to cover everything in business — or in life. Your business tends to go in the direction you head it. This is why I keep trying to tell people that a business plan is not an eternal word written in stone like the Ten Commandments, but an eternal work in process. Paradoxically, you not only have to know where you're going, but you have to be able to shift gears and change course when you realize you're headed opposite to where you want to go.

In another paradox, don't be disconcerted or discouraged just because you're not heading straight for your goal — you can, as Wes says, "spiral up" to it. In fact, social justice (the real thing, not "Beck's Bogie Man") is a little like that. Social justice does not involve giving everybody what they need when they need it. That is, and has always been, individual charity — almsgiving.

What social justice does is target the institutional environment.  The idea is to reform it so that people can "do" for themselves instead of being dependent on private charity or (more and more often) the State that then dictates how you must live and what you must believe. ("State save us!" as the characters in Evelyn Waugh's novella Love Among the Ruins exclaimed.)

I would quibble only with Wes's recommendation to invest in people, and this is mostly semantic, anyway. You don't invest in people, you invest in things, in capital. "Human capital" is what is out there in the cotton fields and up on the slave block. Don't just train people, make them your partners. There are ways to do this today that are very advantageous with respect to taxation and overall profitability — and consistent with Catholic social teaching . . . or any other social teaching, for that matter, as well as just plain common sense.

Why? According to the National Center for Employee Ownership in Oakland, CA, worker-owned companies that have profit sharing and participatory management typically outperform otherwise comparable firms by a factor of 1.5 — and that doesn't include the fact that a company organized as an S-Corp that is 100% owned by the workers through an ESOP trust pays no state or federal corporate income taxes.

Another thing, what with the banks not lending these days, but pouring all their stimulus money into the stock market (shades of 1929 — déjà vu all over again!), you can finance a worker buyout by acting as your own bank. With the right kind of company (meaning the culture and the leader, not the industry) you can structure the transaction in a way that benefits everybody, realize a better price, and grow.

I didn't mean to turn this into an ad, but you can get an idea of what I'm talking about by visiting the CESJ website and the EEI website. Particularly these days when so many people are worried about the economy and what "the government" is doing to "create jobs," it's good to know that there are still ways left that leave us a little power over the situation. We don't need to sit back and wait for "the government" to do something.

Chances are you wouldn't like what they'd do, anyway.

#30#

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