April 15, 2012
A good enough outcome
"Forest management is unexpectedly complex. The regimented plantation proved as unsuccessful as the planned city, and ecologists today are tearing such plantations down. Monocultural forests are not only dull to look at, but vulnerable to disease and fire. Managed woodlands are economically and environmentally superior. But no one knows the best way to manage a forest, or even what "best" means in this context. Our objective in a complex system is not to find the optimum, because no one can know before or after whether such an optimum has been achieved. We can and should be satisfied with an outcome that is good enough.
What is true of forests is equally true of businesses. The great corporations of the modern world were not built by people whose overriding interest was wealth, profit, or shareholder value. To paraphrase Mill: their focus was on business followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they found profit by the way.
This is how Hewlett Packard described it: "Profit is a cornerstone of what we do... but it has never been the point in and of itself. The point, in fact, is to win, and winning is judged in the eyes of the customer and by doing something you can be proud of.""Posted by richard at April 15, 2012 11:52 PM