Monday, June 11, 2007

Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reasons

Courtesy yourbartender

Well, it's about time that someone posted on this blog, and it's WAY past time that the rest of the P.E.A.K. take up that responsibility! So let me take a crack at this and see how it goes.

Many of you know I work at a company that's in the educational technology business. We make products that help kids perform better at math - you can say that with pretty hefty certainty, because there's plenty of actual independent research behind it. (Of course, there might be competitors that make products that do the same thing to some degree, but that's usually not mentioned.) One of the ways that my company promotes their products is to go into a school that, overall, is performing poorly at math. We provide the students with technology, and provide the teachers with training - all free of charge. The results are usually dramatic and astonishing - students perform markedly better at math, and teachers are more excited about teaching than they ever have been before. The district sees all these results and immediately green-lights the purchase of more technology and training, which can result in even more kids performing better at math.

Of course, we don't do this just to give everyone warm fuzzies. Every single metric is measured, researched, and published on the widest scale possible as a "case study" or "model district." The idea is that other districts in the same boat will see themselves in the example, and become moved to purchase our company's technology.

Now before I get too far, let me say I'm completely glad when anyone purchases what we make. After all, it pays my salary! And let's all be honest with each other - kids performing better in math is a good thing, right? Even if one kid can succeed and improve their future, isn't that worth any cost? Who's to say that one of these students turned on to math isn't a future Nobel Prize winner, computer science genius, or influential economist?

So here's what it comes down to: Can you do the right thing for the wrong reason? Is it still a good deed if you do it for completely selfish reasons? Should we praise the philanthropic efforts of a company out to make a profit?

Discuss away!

1 comment:

Phylemon said...

It's always difficult to apply personal Christian ethics to corporate business. Still, I would say that the good your company does far outweighs the "greedy" motives behind their actions. On another level, as you have kind of alluded to, is that when your company does the "greedy" chore of having people buy the product, they are providing for the families of their employees. So, I say we should celebrate these companies.