Profit as Reward LO2709

Barry Mallis (
8 Sep 1995 08:50:08 -0400


As always, pleasure to ponder your words. But this time, your sign-off is
what stimulates my reply. I wonder if it might lead to another
interesting thread.

Inamori suggests that "Profit is the reward for those who serve society".
I am drawn to nicely turned phrases like that--what I amusingly (for my
own sake alone--a kind of in joke) call granola feelings. But something
clicked; I made a connection and thought, "I wonder if this phrase can be
applied to my own New England culture when it was created in a very
different Japanese culture?"

And What about Zimbabwe? or Manchester, UK? or Singapore? or Havana, Cuba?
Do business practices in all these places intrinsically include profit as
an explicit reward for those who serve society? I don't know the answer.

Newspapers typically picture smiling faces atop business bodies exchanging
plaques, cups and certificates in the name of societal improvement.
There's a special regard for these people who seem to break out of the
"profit for me and my..." and extend their lucre to a greater community.

And then, Doubting Thomases wonder at these extensions of grace. On one
extreme, business organizations have learned that cozying up to the public
and its shared institutions makes for good PR. We have the U.S. tobacco
companies sponsoring good deeds on the one hand, while selling cigarettes
on the other; producers of toxins who sponsor children's teams; etc. etc.
And on the other extreme we have company-supported foundations sourced by
(no matter how you cut it) profoundly visionary ideals, and assisting
society in demonstrable ways.

I believe that business learning organizations, to cite one kind, weave
the greater society into their fabric. Children talking about team work
comes to mind. Perhaps Inamori's words are indeed applicable to all, but
the "all" in some geographic places are simply not emotionally prepared to
take this concept to heart on a conscious way.

Shiba et. al. talk about the dual nature of work, to include daily and
improvement elements. Perhaps there's a tri-partite nature to work, or
the kind found already in certain kinds of organizations.

By the way, I have contacted on the Internet my ten-year old's classroom
teacher in the local elementary school. I conveyed the children's
responses to teamwork which appeared on this list, and suggested that we
set up an arrangement whereby the kids and people in my company (700 at
this location) could exchange ideas on "business" and "problem-solving".

Best regards, Lilly, from