"Good intentions are not always socially
A business that does not show a profit at least equal
to its cost of capital is irresponsible; it wastes society's resources.
Economic profit performance is the base without which business cannot
discharge any other responsibilities, cannot be a good employer, a good
citizen, a good neighbor. But an economic performance is not the only
responsibility of a business any more than educational performance is
the only responsibility of a school or health care the only
responsibility of a hospital.
Every organization must assume responsibility for its
impact on employees, the environment, customers, and whomever and
whatever it touches. That is social responsibility. But we also know
that society will increasingly look to major organizations, for-profit
and nonprofit alike, to tackle major social ills. And there we had
better be watchful, because good intentions are not always socially
responsible. It is irresponsible for an organization to accept - let
alone to pursue - responsibilities that would impede its capacity to
perform its main task and mission or to act where it has no competence.
When it comes to corporate philanthropy, make sure your company doesn't
take its eye off the ball.
SLOAN ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
"Authority without responsibility is
illegitimate; but so is responsibility without authority."
'Public responsibility was to Alfred Sloan worse than
unprofessional; it was irresponsible, a usurpation of power. "We
have a responsibility toward higher education," a chief executive
of a major American corporation once said at a meeting both Sloan and I
attended. "Do we in business have any authority over higher
education?" Sloan asked. "Should we have any?" "Of
course not," was the answer. "Then let's not talk about
responsibility," said Sloan with asperity. "You are a senior
executive in a big company and you know the first rule: authority and
responsibility must be congruent and commensurate to each other. If you
don't want authority and shouldn't have it, don't talk about
responsibility. And if you don't want responsibility and shouldn't have
it, don't talk about authority."
Sloan based this on management principles. But of
course it is the first lesson of political theory and political history.
Authority without responsibility is illegitimate; but so is
responsibility without authority. Both lead to tyranny. Sloan wanted a
great deal of authority for his professional manager, and was ready to
take high responsibility. But for that reason he insisted on limiting
authority to the areas of professional competence, and refused to assert
or admit responsibility in areas outside them.
Do your areas of responsibility match your authority? Make
recommendations for achieving a closer match.
"Hire the person who can do the job- and accept
that the person who can do the job isn't necessarily the person you want
to be best friend with."
MARK H. McCORMACK, American sports marketing
consultant, founder and CEO of International Management Group, and
"Of course, competent people are paid well for
their contributions, but receiving well-defined responsibility and the
trust and active interest of others is a much more personally satisfying
JAN CARLZON, Swedish business leader, former CEO of
Scandinavian Airline system, speaker and author.
"Behind every problem there lies an opportunity.
All you have to do is identify it."
"Power can enable people to achieve, for
themselves and for others, success, fortune, victory, the good life. But
if power is the stuff of fantasies, it is also the stuff of
THOMAS L. QUICK, American consultant and author.
"Those who make the worst use of their time are
the first to complain of its brevity."
JEAN DE LA BRUYERE (1645-96), French writer
"Companies can't promise lifetime employment,
but by constant training and education we may be able to guarantee
JACK WELCH, American Industrialist, CEO of General
"When absolute superiority is not attainable,
you must produce a relative one at the decisive point by making use of
what you have."
CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ(1780-1831), Prussian general and
"The biggest wasters of their own resources are
the people who don't know who they want to be or where they want to
TOM HOPKINS, American sales trainer, motivator and
"There can be no progress if people have no
faith on in tomorrow."
JOHN F. KENNEDY(1917-63), American statesman and 35th
President of USA(1961-63)
"If you would be powerful, pretend to be
HORNE TOOKE, British politician and writer.
"We credit scarcely any persons with good sense
except those who are of our opinion."
LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, French aristocrat and writer.
"You don't get what you deserve, you get what
"Technology made large populations possible;
large populations now make technology indispensable."
JOSEPH WOOD KRUTCH (1893-1970), American essayist,
teacher and critic.