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September 21, 2016
King's Corner

The End of Kenway

“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.”

– From The Sayings of Chairman Malcom

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.”

– C.S. Lewis

When I read the quotes above, I interpret the largest points of emphasis to be the endings. The first one could have just as easily been written as, “You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat others.” And the second one could have ended sooner as well, with “Integrity is doing the right thing.” But these authors found it important to qualify their statements further.

When you treat others with the utmost character, even when they can do nothing for you, you are focusing purely on treating others the right way, without regard for rewards or outcomes. There is no quid pro quo, no expectation of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” There is only the requirement to treat others the right way, because it is right. Similarly, integrity is not something that requires a witness. It is a way of being, not a way to receive accolades from adoring admirers. Integrity is judged in the mirror, and only we know our own grade.

The reason why I gravitate to these quotes so fervently is their obvious alignment with Kenway’s philosophy of focusing solely on the means, and never the outcome. As a company, and as a culture, we have foregone all metrics that measure outcomes in favor of metrics that measure the means. In the business world, telling folks that we don’t consider Revenue, Profit, Sales, Employee Retention and Customer Satisfaction as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a bit abnormal. But that is exactly what we are doing.

Treating others with the utmost of character should never be performed because of the perception that it might lead to increased revenue. Living a life of the utmost integrity should never be with the intent that others might see it and reward you with accolades or sales. You be that way, because it is right to be that way. And for no other reason whatsoever.

At Kenway, we live by our Why. To Help and Be Helped. We seek others who need help and we do our best to provide it. We identify when we need help, as individuals and as a company, and we seek it. For us, this is our means. If we constantly focus on wearing the hat of the helper or the helped, we will be living a healthy means. When folks elect to forego those two hats, and instead wear the hat of the bystander, that is oftentimes when the focus incorrectly strays towards outcomes. If I am too busy to provide help when help is needed, I myself probably need help too. If I fear trying to help because the person or company who needs it might turn me away and reject it, I am focusing on the outcome and not the means.

Imagine if those quotes above were re-written. Imagine reading, “You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do SOMETHING for them.” Imagine reading, “Integrity is doing the right thing when SOMEBODY is watching.” These are the quotes of an outcome-focused company or person. These are the quotes of a quid pro quo environment, an “I’ll do what is right as long as it leads to good outcomes” environment. Well, I have a little belief. Doing what is right is EVERYTHING. I’ll take any outcome that results, even one that ends Kenway.

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