The Zoe Project

TNL met with a tutor friend along the corridors of the Business School recently and what she said gave TNL quite a nice lift of the spirits.

It seems this semester’s MNO1001 (Management and Organization) students are doing a project that totally grabbed TNL’s attention. It is called the Zoe Project . Our young ones’ mission is to go forth and improve someone else’s life. Just think Pay It Forward but with depth and academic credits.

So what has this got to do with organizational behavior? Plenty it seems. The question is: do we care more for the bottom line or the people that contribute to the bottom line. According to the project outline, effective management is less about the efficiency and more about people and relationships. And people want to be part of a community in which people care for each other. But caring for others is something learned over time and does not come naturally. How true.

But in a world where the first question asked is “what do I get out of it?”, an answer such as “meaningfulness in life” may not cut it. So TNL took a step back and thought of the people in her life that have shown care and reflected on the ROI.

A recent example was one that was close to home. A colleague’s father passed on after many years of being bed-ridden, plagued by illness. TNL’s colleague took upon herself to care for her father herself even though she had a maid and siblings. The little pains she took to ensure that he was comfortable and contented was admirable. But what took the cake was her humor despite the frequent grumblings of an insistent father and his demands for attention. She chuckled, shook her head and all the while she endured with love with never a sigh.

One may call her filial or attribute this to the duty expected of a daughter. But let me ask you this – could you see yourself commit to giving care with such good humor and love in the most difficult of situations every day for that many years? Perhaps the question should actually be what is the ROI? A sense of fulfillment? The satisfaction or relief of a duty well-discharged? A clear conscience?

TNL can’t answer that. But the impact of her attitude and actions on TNL was the realness of goodness. Surely, we can do this. Surely, with good humor, with a positive perspective of things, with the desire to love and care will give us the impetus, the courage to face these issues, to willingly wanting to give.

The MNO1001 students are expected to measure the impact of their project. This can be measured by the improvements made. TNL would like to suggest students look at the impact in reaching out to the witnesses, the observers of their good work. Should the ROI then be the number of causes observers suddenly pick up to pursue with passion?

How about this – the ROI is what it creates inside you, the desire not to turn away, a gesture of compassion, a pause to listen, a glimmer of hope for the next day. The ROI is allowing it to take root.

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