“It’s not personal – it’s business”. Perhaps the most bizarre and least accurate platitude of our times. For unfathomable reasons, we’ve come to think of business as somehow separate from our person-hood. In unimaginable ways, business rules got made that seemingly have no link to the people who made them. Difficult, embarrassing, unpleasant, or down-right unethical decisions are justified through this casual reassurance: its not you, its “the system”.
That’s what keeps my hope alive. We did make the rules, so we can change them. I cannot think of a single thing that happens in business that is not in some way linked to someone, somewhere, acting, whether directly or indirectly. Therefore, business is all about people (or persons to be more in sync with the catchy heading). In that way, business is completely personal – it depends entirely on persons. Perhaps I’m seemingly picky, but language is crucial in imparting understanding, culture, and indeed creating expectations, norms (written and unwritten) and the milieu in which we work.
Making business personal is what makes business successful. When we recognise this and actively engage with the people who create the business every single day – from employees to customers to shareholders to regulators – we make space for creative opportunities beyond the ‘rules’ of business. We generate visions beyond that of a single individual. We collectively co-create the future.
When business genuinely becomes non-personal, we’ll be employing robots. But then, there is that off button….