Sunday, April 18, 2010

Purpose-Maximizing Business Design

This is really a great book.

If you've read The Four-Hour Work Week you're familiar with the idea that you can design a business not around maximum profit but minimal effort. Drive made me recognize the connection between that and people like Muhammad Yunnus, the Nobel Prize winner who championed micro-loans, or the L3C movement, which enables people to organize "low-profit corporations" which function by turning a profit but don't exist for the sake of profit. Just as a 4HWW "muse" business throws out max profit as a goal and optimizes on minimal effort, an L3C business disregards maximum profit and optimizes on maximum social good.

From Drive:

An L3C in North Carolina, for instance, is buying abandoned furniture factories in the state, updating them with green technology, and leasing them back to beleaguered furniture manufacturers at a low rate. The venture hopes to make money, but its real purpose is to help revitalize a struggling region.

They say "work to live, not live to work." If you have a take-what-you-get attitude to the world, that means just take it easy and enjoy life as well as working. But if you have an entrepreneurial, world-shaping attitude, it means your projects may need to generate revenue to be self-sustaining, but that doesn't mean they have to be mindless, soulless giant robots strip-mining the world for profit. It's not just you that should work to live, not live to work; your companies should work to live, not live to work as well.