The P Word

Profit. It’s one of those words that a lot of people find distasteful. Like power.  You might want it, but it’s not the done thing to talk openly about it. It brings to mind images of Gordon Gecko in Wall Street – greed is good, lunch is for wimps, the end result is all that matters.

Here at MaguireIzatt we have always proudly claimed to help organisations become more profitable through their commercial activities, but even we have felt a growing disdain for the profit word and dismay at the culture it is creating. Nearly 10 years of austerity has left many employees looking and feeling washed out and insecure in their jobs, if indeed they have a job rather than merely the possibility of work under a zero hours contract. Profit is being driven by a relentless focus on lowest price. Quality, value and benefits struggle to get a look in.

Prosperity. That’s a word I can feel inspired by. It’s about much more than profit. It’s about health, wellbeing, education, a sense of community and security – personal and financial not just for one but all involved with an organisation. What we used to call “a great place to work” – highly successful and profitable businesses that people wanted to work for. The trouble with talking about profit is that many people in an organisation don’t share in the rewards. With prosperity, they do.

The Legatum Institute, a UK think tank, publishes a Prosperity Index which assesses the prosperity of countries based on nine pillars , each of which has a number of attributes, it pulls together a number of publishes surveys to compile the rankings. The nine pillars are:

  • Economic activity
  • Business environment
  • Governance
  • Education
  • Health
  • Safety and security
  • Personal freedom
  • Social capital
  • Natural environment

You can view the definition of the pillars on Legatum’s site Norway currently tops the rankings.

Like most surveys, it has its weaknesses and detractors but the concept is motivating. This multifaceted, balanced score card approach could be a great approach for businesses to chart improvements in their overall prosperity. The pillar definitions and attributes could be changed but what a great opportunity it would give all areas of a business to track the effect of policies and strategies on longer term overall performance. All that data on staff turnover, employee happiness, training days, customer complaints, product warranty issues, whistleblowers, fraud, theft, new product development, litigation could come together to be used to measure an organisation’s prosperity.

Get in touch to start to really get to grips with understanding whether today’s profit is being achieved at the price of longer term prosperity.