My management theories professor told us on the first day of class, “Be wary of organizations that call themselves a family. Organizations are not families. You cannot get fired from a family!”
Yet, as we explore organizational theory this semester, there is much crossover in the concepts. There are internal and external environments which impact the type of structure and hierarchy found within a family. Culture and values are transmitted through myth, legend, and visible signs of mutual participation – like snuggling.
And of course, there is the ever growing popularity of a Family Mission Statement, which is barely only one step removed from a Family Business Strategy – and therefore slightly contradictory to my professor’s statement. I first heard of this idea and I knew I wanted one with the same intensity that other people want family vacations. I wanted a touchstone that I could recall when moments got tough, for example, waking up every few hours for the sick baby which happens a lot more than they lead you to believe.
Still – I am aware that the concept of family – of what a family is, should be, and should do – means many things to many people. And I’m not even talking about gender roles and same-sex marriage here or how to define the members of an economic household for poverty threshold status. Those are other tricky questions for another day. I’m thinking more along the lines of questions such as – Do families have products? Should they? What are they? Should they produce things for themselves, or others?
I probably wouldn’t even have thought about these questions if it weren’t for philosopher poet and writer Wendell Berry, who raises the issue in several of his essays compiled in “The Art of the Commonplace.”
“A household, according to its nature, will seek to protect and prolong its own life, and since it will readily perceive its inability to survive alone, it will seek to join its life to the life of the community.”
And regarding offspring – “children need to see their parents at work; they need, at first, to play at the work they see their parents doing, and then they need to work with their parents…. it matters a great deal that the work done should have the dignity of economic value.”
Furthermore I am still brought up short by the unpleasant criticism that: “the modern household is the place where the consumptive couple do their consuming. Nothing productive is done there. Such work as is done there is at the expense of the resident couple or family and to the profit of suppliers of energy and household technology. For entertainment, the inmates consume television and purchase other consumable diversion elsewhere.”
So we created a mission statement – which is very broad – more of a jumping off point than anything at all. Like the beliefs, the trump cards, that I wrote about in this post – this is also a series of beliefs that resonate with us on a spiritual and theoretical level. They are what we are aiming for, but we have yet to see the entirety of the pathway to take to get there. I suppose hoping for that type of clarification is yet another reason why I write this blog.