May 10, 2007

The purpose of business



David Maister asks who do we run the firm for? Any ideas?

I'd like to think that the purpose of business is to meet the needs of customers. And to make a profit by doing so.

And not just needs. It should also be able to do new things. Things for whom there was no apparent need. Who is the shareholder, or how much the business transforms is actually not that important.

In fact, if a business is seen as a living being, then not too many businesses survive for long.

So for society, the focus of businesses have to be the production of goods and services that make life and communities better. For businesses themselves however, the focus has to be continous learning and innovation. I blogged earlier on Arie de Geus's thoughts about it too. (another post)

That is how a riverside paper mill in southwestern Finland can grow to become a global telecom leader. Or how a conglomerate traces its roots back to a medicine and book shop four centuries ago.