On organizations

Last time, I wrote about how people can do just about anything, provided they can be coordinated to a single end. So, how do we do this?

That’s what organizations are for. At its core, an organization is a group of people, focusing their effort to a common goal.

Yes, that’s a really broad definition. But I’m trying to cast the net broadly here, not be precise. And, really, this definition includes all the entities that we normally consider to be organizations: companies, corporations, non-profits, advocacy groups, governments, armies, and more.

As a result, I’d argue that there are a few components to an organization: the people that comprise the organization, the goal that the organization is pursuing, and the people that benefit from the organization’s work towards its goal. So, in the business world, I would talk about the “staff”, the “mission” (usually made concrete in a good or service), and the “customer”.

This means that every organization exists for two reasons.

The first is obvious. Every organization exists to serve its customers (or whoever it is that benefits from its work).

The second is less obvious, but I would argue it is equally important. Every organization exists to provide work to its staff (or whoever it is who is doing the work of the organization). Remember that meaningful work is a basic human need.

So, we can judge the value of an organization by two standards.

First, is the organization successfully serving its customer? Additionally, is the organization making the world a better place through successfully serving its customer?

Second, is the organization successfully providing meaningful work to its staff? Are the staff members able to exercise their gifts and talents in the pursuit of the organization’s goal? Or is the organization treating its staff like robots, useful only for their manual labor but otherwise disregarded?

Ideally, an organization is adding value to the world by serving its customer in ways that provide its staff with meaningful, valuable work. In this way, as we work together, we each find satisfaction in our work while making the world better for everyone.

And I think that this is a goal worth chasing.


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