The Real Bottom Line 3 – Another Myth
Welcome back! Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite refreshing beverage, and let’s get a little closer to the bottom line!
To get you up to speed on this conversation, I’ve been sharing some notes from The Real Bottom Line: Myths about Using Business Practices in Libraries, Pat Wagner’s training seminar on developing partnerships and improving library service. She believes that librarians cling to some myths, some simplistic categorizations that perpetuate negative stereotypes and limit potential partnerships and service opportunities. Last time, we explored the first myth: All businesses are the same. Let’s look at the next one!
Myth #2 – Money is the bottom line.
Businesspeople are greedy.
Businesspeople are only about $$$.
Institutions that follow business principles care only about $$$ and numbers.
As a participant in a few different Christian forums, I hear this sort of talk about any congregation that dares to do something out of the ordinary. “Well, they’re just changing things to boost their numbers.” As someone who is wrestling with the mental transformation from attractional to missional, that kind of accusation bugs me to no end. What gives us the right to make such asinine assumptions about brothers and sisters in Christ?
But what about business? Do all businesses define success by how much money they make? By how high their numbers are? In reality, there are several measuring ratios by which businesses define success:
Quality — what about a five-star restaurant where what matters is freshness and detail and beauty and flavor?
Innovation — companies that try to create the newest and coolest PDA applications are driven by different factors than money alone.
Influence — companies producing organic soaps aren’t primarily interested in making money, but in being a healing or at least improving influence in the world.
Audience — Think of a company that strives to serve cancer survivors. Their way of measuring success is going to deal with how well they are addressing the unique needs of that audience — not necessarily how much money they’re making from that audience.
Lifestyle — Some businesspeople will strive to shape their business to fit their lifestyle needs: “Can I work and be a mom?”
Numbers are only one way that businesses measure their success — and businesses who rely solely on numbers are probably not going to thrive in the 21st century global economy. A more accurate assessment would be to say: “All businesses seek a healthy return on their assets.” So there are businesses out there whose model might only offer negative examples for churches, but I believe that certain businesses around us do have a great deal to teach us.
How does your employer measure success?