For “the good of the business”

I’ve been thinking this weekend of that good “excuse”, and I have no other word for it I’m afraid, that most of those who are in the corporate world come across over and over again:

It’s for the good of the business.

Managers and company leaders can get away with doing some pretty awful stuff and it’s pretty much accepted if it’s for “the good of the business”. I used to wonder what this “business” was because if business isn’t about people what the hell is it about?! Any business deals with people in the form of employees and customers and those are just the most basic relationships a business has with people. How can it not be about the good of those people? What is this other entity that exists that seems to take priority at just about every turn?

I was thinking on the weekend, actually to be honest I was having a bloody good whinge to myself about the “state of the nation” (meaning the whole bloody world and its economy), and I was thinking about how times had changed. This thing, this “for the good of the business”, is something new that’s crept up and it’s really ugly.

Then I remembered something…

When I was a kid growing up in Southern Sweden we went on a field trip. I can’t remember how old I was exactly but I guess I was 10-11 years old. We went to visit a place that had a stone that commemorated Ansgar.

In 829 the Swedish king Björn av Hauge requested a mission to the Swedes and Ansgar was appointed missionary. Together with the friar Witmar, he preached and converted people for six months at Birka, a settlement located by the lake Mälaren.

We were also told that contrary to what most people were told the methods of converting people were rather, shall we say, persuasive. We were told they usually started with the chieftain and they asked him if he wanted to get baptized. If he said no they would chop an arm off. If he refused again they would chop the other arm off, and of he continued to refuse they would go on with the legs and then the head. The result was the most people readily accepted God and were baptized.

For the good of the people.

For the good of the church.

For the good of the business.

Not much has changed it seems except that the methods are perhaps a little gentler nowadays, I mean at least people are only losing their jobs not limbs…


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