“If you do not work for your dreams, someone will hire you to fight for theirs” (Steve Jobs)
The current circumstances, after the deep economic crisis that we are still going through in Spain, have had two fundamental consequences; In the first place, it has made us put our feet on the ground and become aware of the reality in which we live, that nothing is forever, and that, just as you can climb, you can go down.
On the other hand, once the worst has happened and somehow, we return to enjoy some stability, taking risks gives us a certain panic, and scares us out of the so-called “comfort zone”.
We all want to improve our circumstances, whatever they may be, but after the storm we are reluctant to assume that a change for the better can lead to a result we do not expect. It can be due to two very different profiles: the first one is a conformist profile, without ambition, and that resigns to maintain a “security” status without further aspiration in life, and I enclose the word security, because I think it has been clear in the last years that absolutely NOTHING is secure enough, and that the biggest and strongest towers can fall in the blink of an eye, dragging in their fall everything they have around.
The second profile is one that, although it has a clear entrepreneurial intention and improvement, after bad experiences is reluctant to take risks again because of the dizziness that is experienced before the possibility of bad results.
Making decisions and leaving the comfort zone
If your profile is the first, honestly, I have nothing to say; enjoy with your attitude, and if you are really going to find satisfactory to keep in that false security previously commented, go ahead. However, if you see yourself reflected in the second profile, it is time to roll up your sleeves and, taking the necessary foresights, start walking to get your dreams.
The well-known zone of comfort, we can qualify it as zone of “loss of opportunities”. Fear makes us remain immobile and accommodate the “security” of the present, but it takes us away from a better future and that is something that we must value.
Obviously, the zero risk does not exist, but we can take advantage of our own and others’ experience to minimize the probability of committing insurmountable errors. There is no one in the history of humanity who has achieved important things without taking risks, and it is to that profile of people to whom we owe everything we enjoy today. We can make our small contribution to improve our present and the future of those who come after us.
It’s time to get out of our comfort zone.
It’s time to leave our comfort zone and consider the quote of Steve Jobs with which I have started this article, or someone will use us to get out of his own one.
For some time now, a parameter has been added to our management that has not been given too much attention, which has been called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as a vital element in the definition of the mission, vision, values and objectives of the companies, and as an essential issue related with the management of the company.
Due to the vertiginous advance that the economy and the industrialization have experienced since the Second Industrial Revolution, and, especially during the Cold War period and later (since the end of the 20th century to the present) all the effort has been put into productivity , the efficiency of the processes and in a competitiveness to achieve the result without paying attention to the collateral effects that it had.
The different legislations, logically always went a step behind since it is impossible to propose a correction to an event that has not occurred, and, moreover, there was not enough experience to be able to anticipate it, with which, the present was regulated, with all consequences of the past already done, and with the uncertainty of unpredictable future damages.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
According to the Observatory of Corporate Social Responsibility, it is defined as “a way of managing companies based on the management of the impacts that their activity generates on their customers, employees, shareholders, local communities, the environment and society in general.”
This definition, although it is brief and concise, explains crystal clear that CSR is something that goes beyond environmental or eco-friendly concepts, to be a fundamental part in the DNA of companies, something that has to soak up the identity and the personality of the organizations, that all the staff must know, assume and apply, and that the entity must communicate so that it is a valuable element for which our customers, suppliers, and everyone who wants to can evaluate and qualify us.
Corporate Social Responsibility is everyone’s business
This issue of Corporate Social Responsibility is not exclusive of large corporations or those listed on the stock market; it is something that must be incorporated whatever the size of our company or business, because, otherwise, we will lose adaptability and competitive position and our results will reflect that disadvantage.
The day to day has taken us to assume communications, internet, new technologies, etc. as something that defines whether we are inside or outside the market and the current environment, and Corporate Social Responsibility will not be less.
Today I still find myself with managers and CEOs who give less importance to this issue, without being aware of the consequences that this will bring, and there is something worse, and that is, since it is a “silent” issue since it does not uncover any negative parameter or ratio in the financial statements, when the symptoms appear, it may be too late to implement the necessary solutions.
Transparency and communication in corporate social responsibility
Fortunately, more and more companies publish their CSR report or some similar denomination in which they show and demonstrate the actions they carry out, the results obtained and the commitments they assume in the short, medium and long term, thereby facilitating a tangible tool by which to value them and know what we can expect from them.
It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to society actions of improvement and commitment, and be willing to be audited for it, which will result in greater sustainability of our organizations and an improved legacy for future generations.
The externalization, or outsourcing of workers or departments in our organizations is a means and an important tool to increase flexibility and adaptation of our organizational structure to certain changes in order to experiment the effectiveness that a decision may have, really and objectively testing the result obtained.
However, abusing this system can make us fall, not only in causing a negative effect among our employees and collaborators, but in running the risk of losing the personality of our company. And what is truly dangerous is that if the contracting of external services works as it should, the temptation to abuse this type of services beyond what is advisable can be important.
In today’s business world we are moving in an environment governed by obtaining the best possible result in the shortest period of time, and the managers in charge of making decisions are capable of making real juggling in order to satisfy the mandate that has been given to us, among other things, because part of our emoluments are usually linked to the achievement of these objectives. However, this may lead us to not pay adequate attention to issues of vital importance, such as the work environment, how our stakeholders perceive us, the corporate social responsibility (which in itself deserves a separate article), etc., which, although in the short term it can be satisfactory, it will inevitably affect the sustainability of the company over time.
Corporate Sustainability and Externalization
Corporate Sustainability can be defined in a few words as the search for a balance that allows obtaining the desired results in the present, and that this obtainment can be maintained in the medium and long-term future. For this reason, it is important to use the tools that we have at our disposal for what they are designed, and not to make creative innovation decisions in their use, since the result, in the end, will be different than desired. In the same way that each nut requires a suitable tool to optimize the benefits for which it has been designed, with the outsourcing of our business structure, the same happens.
Do we think that we can implement a new process, management activity, etc., and we need to test the real result that it can bring? Lest go ahead! It is time to hire external management personnel and objectively assess what we are going to achieve with it, but once we have the necessary feedback and consider that we are going to incorporate this process into our activity permanently, we must design the optimal structure with the same character of permanence, and perhaps leave a certain percentage of externalization in order to have that point of necessary flexibility, but no more.
Efficiency and effectiveness in decision making
The efficiency and effectiveness must be obtained within the honesty in the decision making. If the search for the optimal short-term result leads us to the exercise of certain management engineering that leads to the use of figures such as the false self-employed, we can be sure that this result will not be maintained in the long-term. While it is true that the legislative and tax policy is often not helpful in the search for the best ratio of profitability, it is our responsibility as managers to put our grain of sand to try to change the current atmosphere and to heal our professional environment for the future that we want to build. We must not forget that our results depend on the people who collaborate in their achievement, for which they must be appreciated, recognized and cared for, and, what is more important, that they feel it.