In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Immanuel Kant sketched out his famous norm of the Categorical imperative that “binds all rational beings”.
In case some of you missed your Philosophy 101 -classes, Kant formulated his imperative approximately as follows:
- Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (in which “maxim” means a subjective principle that controls one’s action and choices), and
- So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an end and never as only a means.
It soon becomes evident that the Kantian way of thought requires a very high moral of anyone practicing it. This is also true when managing a company, especially when one ponders the legitimacy of the company’s existence. What kind of moral obligations does the company have in relation to its owners and customers, the society in general and to its employees? What is the root cause for us to get together every day, and to spare no efforts in developing the company, improving organizational wellbeing, meeting our customers, and coming up with innovative technological solutions?
Companies tend to tackle with difficulties when they try to formulate their meaning, values, vision, and mission in the company strategy. In order for these identity-defining and direction-giving, yet somewhat “soft” company policy areas to be plausible, it is necessary that the company management and owners alike take a breather and begin the task by considering their own moral motivation factors. In successful companies, both owners, managers and staff tend to share a value base, which also affects the company’s development and its direction.
After a general agreement on some basic questions such as “Exactly how ambitious are we?” and “Why are we actually here?”, it is time to come up with a core strategy for the company: “Where are we heading, and how do we get there?” How do we manage to involve everyone to be a part of this common identity? How do we get everyone to work hard, and sometimes even beyond hard, in order to achieve our common goals?
Kant’s thought of humanity as an end, and not only a means, can easily be implemented in business operation. We at Huld have two core values. The first one is that we want to be Humane. To meet all people, both customers and colleagues, and see and appreciate them as individuals is central in how we create wellbeing in our working environment. We are all busy living our own lives – that is, we all meet varying challenges and changes of life, and have our everyday griefs and joys. Most of them are not visible to others. Nevertheless, we are all first and foremost people. Our roles as employees or company representatives come second. By understanding this, our daily working life and our contacts with other people become more insightful and get more content and quality.
The other one of Huld’s core values is that we strive to be Bold. We define ‘boldness’ not only as insight when it comes to the varying areas of technological design, but even as courage to speak out when the situation is challenging, and to stand behind our justified perceptions of things. The bold understands his own weaknesses and asks for help when needed – and apologized made mistakes. Boldness means also that we believe in our work and work systematically to achieve even ambitious goals. And we do it together. Only people with healthy values, confidence in both themselves and in others and with a shared inspiration towards a common goal can make miracles together. In cooperation, the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.
Vice President, Strategy