Putting God First


Purpose is greater than strategy- Kurt Oellermann


My sincere apologies to the religious types because this piece has got nothing to do with organised religion. It certainly has nothing to do with “tithes” and “offerings” nor any of those sanctimonious talk. My intention here is to establish once and for all why putting God first is not only a viable business model and strategy, it is the most viable thing to do in a world that is uncertain of its own future. According to Frank Bold (a purpose-driven law firm), in 1960 the average holding period of stock in the S&P 500 was eight years. Today it is four Months. In the 1950s the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company was 50-60 years, now it is 15 years.  The reality of managing an enterprise (big or small) in today’s world comes with great challenges. The subsequent lines of this piece will get right down to the issue at hand but, not without me asserting unequivocally my unwavering faith in God; the source of all things.

Reality check.
You don’t offer the type of bold and loose proposition like the one I have put forward in this piece without having sufficient rationale to back things up. The consequence of not having credible points might earn one the title of a persona non granta and better still and deservingly so, an empty barrel and a sorry noise maker. This is what I’m up against if at the end of reading this apologist sermon you can’t at least see the merit of any of my rants. I would sincerely hate to have only heard the sound of my own voice. If you are one who has all the answers figured out already, then you should stop right here. If however, you are like me who is curious to find out how to help the companies I advise achieve success at monumental proportions, you are most welcome to be my guest. I don’t think you will be disappointed reading on. I promise you this conversation will be worth your while. This is not your grandfather’s time and certainly not mine either. We live in a world of transient advantages where nothing is promised.

How art the mighty fallen.
Ten years ago, the Coca Cola company sat on the list of the world most valuable company as the unchallenged number one. Pardon me for branding this stale gist. Apple is now the number one most valuable company in the world. The Market Cap of Apple is bigger than the entire Nigerian stock exchange. Apple as of today has more cash than it possibly needs to run but is this in anyway an assurance that it won’t cede its number one position to Alibaba of China or another for that matter? How will your describe the meteoric rise and sudden collapse of Research in Motion (Blackberry)? What of Nokia? A few months back, Facebook’s IPO became the largest ever. Jack Ma (the crocodile in the Yangtze) has erased that record. When last did you use Encarta? (Microsoft disc-based encyclopedia). Wikipedia is the new arbiter and it is FREE. So that we are clear that this is not about listing a roll call of enterprise misfortunes, the whole idea here is to establish a fundamental truth about the nature of today’s business environment. We live in a world of permanent change. Disruption is the new strategy.

Putting God first?
This is one of the many clichés around isn’t it? While it may not be part of the typical speak of the secular business arena, it is certainly a fixture in the parlance of institutional religion. Every religion (Christianity/Islam/Buddhism/Traditionalism) have a way of drumming this into their subscribers. Scientologists and atheists aren’t left out too. They at least bear allegiance to something. Logic or self, something must always come first. So what does it mean to put God first? And, how does that relate to achieving sustainable growth by way of enterprise success? Well, the simple answer to that is: PUT PEOPLE FIRST. Yes! You have heard it before and now you are hearing it from me too. Disappointed? I urge you to hold up a little longer to hear my version. Just that we make sure that we are on the same page, what I just said is that putting people first is the way to put God first and this is the only way to insure our joint and several future as a people. The proposition here is that by putting people at the center of an enterprise business model and focusing on elevating their experiences, rewards and contributions, businesses will not only achieve those numbers but exceed them.

People-Service-Profit. (P-S-P Model)
Still on the matter at hand and further to it, the proposition here is beyond the board-room and shop-floor lip service that C-suite executives use to create false hope and the cheap blackmail that people in operations use to secure better pay and package from the top. This is not about embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to achieve popularity in the community. It is not about increasing the take home pay of the staff. It is not about better welfare. It is not about optimizing shareholders’ value. Putting God first as in putting people first is not an exclusive strategy. It is an inclusive and undemocratic philosophy. Wait a minute. doesn’t that sound like a conflict? Doesn’t inclusion and democracy mix? Well, not quite. There is a thin line here. The context here is that, to narrow the purpose of business to profit alone is to jeopardize and  utterly violate the very principle of Compound Interest which is the most profound principle in the world. You can call it writer’s freedom but what I’m saying in essence is that inclusion as it relates to putting God/people first means re-thinking and re-imagining the very purpose of business and the model it runs on. For clarification, I believe in profit and insane profit at that but, I deride in its entirety any philosophy that reduces the purpose of business to just top line and bottom line growth. For the record, to achieve growth in the everyday sense of it, you have got to start with people first.

I dare you.
The morale of this piece was and is to establish putting God first (putting people first) as a principle to ensure sustainable growth where profit/share price and any of the growth parameters come together as only a part of the bigger narrative. I hope that has been achieved or at least the conversation has began. My proposition bears semblance to Richard Branson’s idea which declares that we should SCREW BUSINESS AS USUAL. Looking at comparative analysis of business in terms of terminal results is no longer an intelligent measure of the true state of things.  That a business declared huge profits in the last quarter(s) isn’t an insurance for it to rest on its oars. Forthwith also, to achieve repeatable enterprise success, businesses must look deeper into what my boss Kurt Oellermann calls the “STATE OF THE CORE”. In his words, purpose is greater than strategy and I agree with him in the absolute sense of things. I dare you to put people first and you would have by doing so, put God first. People are gods. There is a piece of God in them.

Shouldn’t you put them first?

Image Credit: Google.

Femi Oni

Femi’s overarching purpose is to inspire brands (individuals, organisations and nations) to unlock potentials to achieve sustainable growth and impact. His mission is to mentor 1000 brands in Africa and beyond by 2025.

Specialties and Interests: Business Model Design & Innovation, Visioning, Strategy Design & Execution, Project Management, Change Management, Strategic Branding, Operations Excellence, Process Modelling, Product Management, Productivity Management, Entrepreneurial Leadership (Startups), , Social Evangelism, Education, Sustainability, Cybernetics, Risk & Compliance.