Friday, April 12, 2024

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葡萄樹傳媒

經商的目的

By: Jim Mathis

1968年,在堪薩斯州立大學的財務管理課程第一堂課,我的教授一進到教室就開宗明義地在黑板上寫:「每一個企業組織的目的就是要增加老闆的財富。」之後這段話出現在每一個考試裡面。教授告訴我們: 「在公開市場交易的公司企業裡面,老闆就是股東,所以公司的目標就是要增加股東的股價、分紅和利潤。」

但是對我來說,這樣的說法並不完全正確,因為我認識很多企業主,他們經商的目的並非只是單單要增加財富。對他們大部分的人來說,工作是希望能過自己渴望的生活或者是能使用一種特定的技能。就像我的同學,我出生在二次大戰之後經濟大蕭條的年代,當時幾乎沒有人在尋找自己人生的意義,但是1968年後,有一波新的改革運動持續出現,跟我同年紀的人想要做一些不是只關心自己,而是更重要的事情。

我在1973年開始自己做生意,因為要解決一個問題-製作高品質的黑白照片。我的人生下半場都在學習其它的技巧,來幫助別人。有幾年,我雇用了些員工,目的是要給人工作以及授權他們去幫助我們的客人。跟我的教授所說的剛好相反,增加財富一直都不是我做生意最重要的目的。

雖然有很多公司的目的仍然是要增加老闆或股東的財富,但這其中有公司已經不復存在了。有些公司的執行長也因為破壞道德和違法而入獄服刑。以往「股東」的這個概念已經被「利益相關者」取代了,這些人包括了股東、員工、顧客、融資者和其他擁有公司利益的人。我希望現在的大學已經不再想說服學生說:經營公司唯一的目的是要增加股票的價值,因為這樣的觀念已經造成了一些災難性的決定。

當我對商科學生演講的時候,我會強調大部分成功的企業的創立,一開始都是因為一群有專業的人想要真誠地服務人群。例如,很多聖經中的經文都告訴要追隨耶穌的人: 服事人而非被服事。

服事人而不是被服事 。很多老闆和管理階層都表現出應當被服事的態度。但是耶穌-道成肉身的態度剛好完全相反。「因為人子來,並不是要受人的服事,乃是要服事人,並且要捨命作多人的贖價。」(馬可福音10章45節)

下定決心要把別人放在第一位。如果我們決定要專注在別人的需要和益處上,我們會得到財務上的回報以及好名聲。「凡事不可結黨,不可貪圖虛浮的榮耀;只要存心謙卑,各人看別人比自己強。各人不要單顧自己的事,也要顧別人的事。」 (腓立比書2章3-4節)

收割永恆的莊稼 。只專注財富和利益反應一個人的短視近利。這樣的思想沒有考慮到公司長遠的健康或是服務他人所帶來永恆的價值。「人就是賺得全世界,賠上自己的生命,有甚麼益處呢?」 (馬可福音 8章36節)

省思/討論題目
在讀這篇週一嗎哪之前,你是如何定義經商的目的? 你是否同意經商的目的和最重要的事情,近幾年來已經有所轉變了?如果有,是怎樣的改變? 你是否同意作者所說的:「大部分的企業的成立和經營都是專業技能或是服務的表現,在這個過程中,為的是要幫助和服務他人?」。請分享你的理由。 你覺得企業裡自我中心、利益導向的態度能夠被克服嗎?你認為維持個人及公司的目標和中心思想,是使用利他原則的話,能帶來什麼益處?備註:如果你手上有聖經想要看看聖經中和這個主題相關的經節,請參考:箴言3章27-28節;箴言11章24節;箴言 27章20節;傳道書 1章3-11節;傳道書6章7-9節; 馬太福音16章26節;馬可福音8章35-37節

THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS
By Jim Mathis

In 1968, at the start of a class on financial management at Kansas State University, my professor entered the room and wrote on the board, "The purpose of every business organization is to increase the wealth of the owners." This statement appeared on every exam. Owners of a publicly traded corporation are the stockholders, the professor explained, so the purpose of a publicly traded corporation is to increase the value of stocks or dividends to benefit them.

This assertion did not ring true for me, however, because I knew a lot of business owners and few of them were in business solely to increase wealth. Most of them worked to achieve a desired standard of living or to use a specific skill. Like my classmates, I had grown up in the “superficial 50″s,” an era that was emotionally stunted in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II. During those years few people were ready for soul-searching about their "purpose”; but by 1968 a revolution was underway. People my age wanted to do something important, something with significance beyond themselves.

I started my first business in 1973 to solve a specific problem – creating high-quality black-and-white photos. I have spent the rest of life developing other skills to help others. For a number of years I had employees, so another purpose was to provide jobs and empower them to help our customers. Contrary to the professor”s declaration, increasing wealth has never been my priority or purpose in business.

There remain corporations whose purpose is to "increase the wealth of the owners," but many like that exist only in history books today. Some of their executives have served time in prison for ethical and criminal violations. The idea of "shareholders" has been replaced with "stakeholders" – shareholders, employees, clients, creditors, and anyone else with a vested interest in the organization. I would hope colleges have stopped trying to convince students that the only purpose of a business is to increase stock value, but it would be hard to know that based on some of the disastrous decisions being made.

When I speak to entrepreneurial students, I emphasize most successful businesses start with a skilled person having a sincere desire to serve others. Many passages of the Bible advise that for those who follow Jesus Christ, this should be a primary purpose. For example:

Serving, rather than being served. Many in ownership and top executive roles may act as if others are there to serve them, but Jesus – God in the flesh – did not hold that attitude at all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Resolving to put others first. If we determine to focus on the needs and interests of others, we will receive a good return not only financially but also in good reputation. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Reaping everlasting dividends. Concentrating only on wealth and profits reflects short-term thinking. It fails to consider the long-term health of the organization – or the eternal benefits gained by focusing on others. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Prior to reading this “Monday Manna,” how would you have defined “the purpose of business”? Have you seen the consensus about the purpose and priorities of business change over the years? If so, in what ways? Do you agree with Mr. Mathis”s view that most businesses are established and operated to perform certain skills or services – and to help and serve others in the process? Why or why not? How do you think a self-centered, profit-only attitude in a company can be overcome? What are some of the benefits of maintaining personal and corporate missions and philosophies that are others-centered?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 3:27-28, 11:24, 27:20; Ecclesiastes 1:3-11, 6:7-9; Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:35-37

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