Super size me, please…

I’m wrapping up a beautiful week of vacation on the California coast. Avoiding crowds, we journeyed in a Jeep, stopping at small hotels, roadside farm stands, renegade vineyards and funky tasting rooms.  I reveled in the beauty and quiet, and wished for a simpler life.

This morning, then, I read Umair Haque’s post, as I often do – and asked with my newly clear, vacation brain, “Am I creating a significant level of  “socio-productivity” in my business?” I’ve asked myself – what is the point of my company (do we just sell tickets?) or is it possible that in my corner of the world, I can add some level of beauty to the messed up, greedy, backwards way business is done?

I’m repulsed by junk – ask anyone who knows me. From food to shopping, I avoid it, and frankly, it’s hard to stay quiet when I can’t. At a rare stop at Old Navy yesterday for jeans to fend off the cold at a night Bay Area ballgame – I saw a store full of garbagy, cheap clothes and even worse, eye level $1 made-in-China-junk for little ones at the checkout counter. It was like looking at Haque’s “…economy, hell-bent on furiously mass-producing the drab, toxic junk of the industrial age,” right in the face.

In my industry, junk comes in the form of poor service, greed, and illicit payouts for contracts. I compete with companies willing to lose money every day to keep their venture happy, or strong arm a client into signing deals out of fear of losing future acts. There’s little sense of providing a strong product, backing it with service, and pricing it fairly.

If I can’t walk into my office and offer my employees a sense of doing things just a little better, I’ve just added to the junk. We’re friends with competitors, forge relationships just for fun, and refuse to tell people our product can do things it can’t.

I’m certainly not going to change the economy from my little office in Mesa, Arizona. But “if the point of a financial institution, for example, isn’t just productivity (ie, churning out 5 billion toxic CDOs this quarter, instead of 4 billion last quarter)–but socio-productivity, well, then, said institution’s (count me in here) going to demand very different kinds of people, resources, structure, and strategy.” (Umair Haque)

What if small companies like mine take the challenge? What if workers cared enough to look for a place to matter? What if our strategy was about better growth, not just bigger?

It’s a super-sized dream, and no, I do not want some fries with that.

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