Hard-headed realists take pride in asserting that organizations are concerned with real things like profit and loss. To label profit a thing is to miss much of what is interesting about it. Profit is one way of labeling and making sense of the world; it is variable in a cause map, it can be an enacted environment, and it can be a symbol. It is one form of sensibleness that can be imposed on an organization¹s stream of experience but it is only one form of sensibleness, and it is an arbitrary one at that.
The Social Psychology of Organizing,
Love and power are not opponents; it is our ideas that have constructed them so. — The resolution of this tiresome conflict between power and love requires but one simple test, a move from the singular to the plural. Just add an s. The world is not one world, power is not a single idea, and love, which comes in thousands of varieties and even more disguises, is a generic commodity, unable to be owned by any single definition. So, too, business; just add an “s” to profit; profit not only for partners and shareholders. The monotheism of the profit motive can be loosened so that it makes places for other kinds of profitability; profitable for the long-term continuity of life and future generations, profitable to the pleasure and beauty of the common good, profitable to the spirit. The double bottom line of social and ecological responsibility extends profitability only part way. The idea of profitability itself needs pluralizing.
Kinds of Power,
True story: I was standing in line behind an attractive woman many years ago, and she ordered some vanilla ice cream, “I’d love some vanilla, a scoop!”
Tapping her on the shoulder, she half turned, and leaning over, I suggested, “Love is strong word for what you feel about ice cream, no?”
She gave me a weird look. But, it was enough of a line to entice her to sit down and spend a moment conversing and, well, checking each other out. And, I meant what I asked her earlier.