Human Capital: The stuff that really matters

The thing about business is that it is all about the bottom line. What’s the profit? Where do we put our money so it can grow? What is going to work? While this is all well and good, money and bottom lines only happen when people come together for common goals. The whole “we are all working together to build something” sounds a bit, well, cheesy, it is actually something that I am realizing more and more is the one and only linchpin to any successful company.

Think about it.  Big corporations, they are like mini college campuses.  They have gyms, cocktail parties, discounts on food, common spaces, gardens, mentors and mentees, big rooms small rooms, group travel.  This doesn’t sound like work to me!  But it is.  It is the essence of work: creating communities to confront challenges.  The point is for each individual to enjoy their day, to get a charge out of “work”, and to instill a sense of loyalty.  Some people may raise their eyebrows and say this is the corporate worlds trap.  But I honestly am comforted by it all.  Who wouldn’t want to feel good about their work?  Who wouldn’t want to feel like they have a purpose?  Who wouldn’t want to feel like they are making changes in the world?  Now, it’s not like one feels all this after a few hours in the building.  I think it is something that one feels over time, as in years.  One builds bonds with the people one works with and it is up to the corporations, businesses and work environments to foster and strengthen these bonds.  It all comes down to the people.  Any experience can be a good one if you have the right people to share it with. 

To go one step farther with this connection between human capital and businesses, I want to talk about the corporation’s impact on culture, aka society values.  I have been reading a really fabulous book (check it out) all bout corporate culture politics.  The kind of questions (albeit very general) that characterizes the book are things like: Why would American Express want to sponsor an exhibition of Jackson Pollocks work?  How come Hugo Boss can fund an exhibition and have a say in what is displayed?  Who exactly shapes our culture?  Do corporations support culture or are they the ones who are actually deciding what becomes well known enough to be deemed culture?  So while I am still early on with my thoughts about this I do feel that it is a very true fact that corporations strive to be simultaneously a product of current day culture, and a trailblazer in the creation of culture.  Just take a look at the construction of major corporate buildings.  The architect and design always have social and cultural relevance.  Just take a look at the website for the Rockerfeller Center.  There is a whole section of the website dedicated the selection of art within the buildings.  But wait a minute, aren’t corporations all about the bottom line?  Apparently not.

Finding a good team, and mixing the right blend of personalities, mentalities and challenges makes all the difference in the world when it comes to getting stuff done.  One can change habits, but one cannot change a mentality or a personality.  To produce good work, one must create a sense of community, purpose and positivity.  One must produce a culture.  There must be a strong source of inspiration, and communication lines must, must, must be open.  How does this happen?  How can people be organized in a way where each one feels what they do is needed and progressive and contributes to society?  Well, I suppose the answer to that would be what true leadership is.  Leadership isn’t always knowing what to do.  Leadership is knowing how to recognize, orchestrate, and uncover the potential in people so that they can do their thing as a part of a whole, a whole that is defining who we are.    



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