The Danger of Focusing Only on Business Outcomes

This article from a few months ago continues to hold my interest. Written pre-covid, the article makes this point:

Asking, “What’s the ROI?” is dangerous if it’s your only consideration.

Big data and the ease of collecting information can woo us into making decisions based only on numbers.

Data is important, but values are more so. The article talks about the value of innovation being squelched by the ROI question, which is one reason it’s worth checking out. I’m going to go a different direction, though, and talk about the value of being human.

Being human is to care about other humans.

When I talk about the last few months with other business owners and leaders, some common themes emerge:

  • Whether it’s customers, clients, or employees, we’ve done more with no immediate, perceivable ROI to ensure we’re serving others.
  • Being human and temporarily setting business outcomes aside is the right thing to do.
  • We are pleased by some vendors and colleagues who have made very human-centered decisions.

When I talk about the last few months with friends and clients, similar themes emerge:

  • When a store or service provider protects their bottom line at the expense of relationships, people notice.
  • Likewise, when a store or service provider stays compassionate and focused on serving others in the moment, people notice even more.
  • People will never forget 2020, and they’ll remember who made them feel like a partner and ally when they needed it most.

Be human. Meet needs. Build relationships.

There is no data yet to prove the ROI of doing extra work and setting aside the bottom line to meet the needs of people at this time.

But, I believe, there will be. This moment requires creativity and thoughtfulness of leaders everywhere to meet the needs of people as much as possible, while preserving organizations for the future. Current judgement calls are exhausting, but it will be worth the effort.

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