Last week I had one of those moments when you realize–one day late–the perfect thing you should have said during that conversation you had with that one important person the day earlier. The stupid thing I said was during my third phone interview with a fairly respectable internship in Washington DC. Considering it was my third interview, I was getting a little overly confident, and proudly stated that, “many non-profits have a huge problem in that they are run too much like old-lady church charities and not enough like aggressive, successful businesses.” I don’t regret the statement so much as the follow-up question and subsequent follow-up answer: “Can you name specific non-profits that do or don’t use those principles, and what it is about them that stands out to you?” I then rattled off some kind of crap about accountability, financial planning, and due diligence.
Shortly after I read the following statement from The Science of Success, “An effective business vision begins and ends with value creation, which is the only reason a business should exist. In a true market economy, for a business to survive and prosper long-term it must develop and use its capabilities to create real, sustainable, superior value for its customers and for society.” I realized that this is where many non-profits don’t mirror businesses–they fail to create real, sustainable, superior value. Rather than focusing on customer-driven value creation, many focus on volunteer-driven service projects–or creating unwanted, unneeded value.
aw nuts. Wish I would have thought of that answer…
On a broader note, this idea of purpose-driven planning and striving for value creation does not contrast with Hayek’s or Postrel’s notion of danger associated with grandiose planning. On small scales (such as personal, or within a company culture), initiative and vision are essential to growth, change, and progress. MBM never mentions forcing their idea’s on any individual. This is not based on using one person’s idea to make all of society better (whether those ideas are correct or not), but rather using those ideas and initiatives to propel one person or company (or family or small group) toward a common goal–leaving everyone else in society free to do the same thing if they choose.