Is it possible to think without presuppositions? Certainly we can refuse to acknowledge where our tacit knowledge comes from… but how did it get there? There has to be a source that informs what we do, and how we do it. Knowledge always has a source from which it is derived. Stating the foundation upon which you have developed your methodology is good practice in business. I’ve written of this tacit knowledge before. I believe that it’s important to acknowledge our presuppositions in business. Therefore, it’s time to get down to the business of truth, beauty & goodness.
As shocking as it might sound, presuppositions point to our beliefs and the religion that we actually practice. They inform how we will go about our work, and how we will love and serve our customers and employees. I realize that it is not popular in our day to use words like beliefs and religion. Some would say to avoid them like the plague.
Life in a post-Christian era
Words like theory, science, economy, math, and data are more palatable in the business world. This is because we live in a “post-Christian” era. Many are proclaiming that religion and faith have failed society. Supposedly, the new world of progress can not afford to be shackled to these types of presuppositions. The proposal is that the new morality will be derived from a source other than God. This is a foolish endeavor. Words like these exist because there is a God who created the world in which they can exist.
As any business owner knows, we are often faced with trials that include ethical dilemmas. Confronted with these choices will force us to confess our commitments. And in the accounting of the decision we must address – by what standard. Everyone has a fount from which they acquire knowledge. Some sources are bitter and poisoned and lead to death, while others are full of life, blessing, and cause things to become fruitful and multiply.
Business is not a popularity contest, but a disciplined course of action that champions truth, beauty, and goodness. To acknowledge that these are desired in the marketplace, points to the process inherent in creating or making something. Historically, these have been known as the transcendentals because they are innate to each person. Who wants to live in a world where falsehood, ugliness, and evil abound through mankind’s endeavors?
Look For The Anceint Paths
Presuppositional business, therefore, acknowledges that our faith is daily revealed in what we actually practice. Faith and reason have always played out this way. People often think they have to chose one or the other. You might have heard people say, “You’ve just got to have faith.”, or “I only believe in science”. The assumption behind these types of statements is that faith breaks out against all sound reason. It’s common today to have this dichotomy, but this only points to our illiteracy of the ancient paths. But reason naturally builds upon our faith. Faith and reason are not in opposition to each other. The whole Tenfold approach is built upon the reality of this truth.
These ideas need to be unpacked. Our worldview informs our life and business practices. As any business man or woman will tell you, business is about how well we can execute. Great execution starts with having sound mind and developing simple systems that leverage truth, beauty, and goodness throughout the process.
By What Standard?
So now that we’ve established that faith doesn’t require that you turn off your brain, let’s get down to business. A sound mind has to acknowledge its presuppositions, and test them. There will be times when we arrive at a point where the object of our faith is questioned. At that point, we have to wrestle with the possibility that one ore more of our presuppositions will be challenged. Potentially they will have to change.
To deny this hard work of applying, observing, analyzing, and correcting means that corruption, chaos and confusion are given freedom to reign in our business. Therefore, we must apply ourselves at the bench and do the hard work with the boldness to make logical changes. But this still doesn’t answer question, by what standard?
Presuppositions all revolve around the basic questions about life. They shape our worldview and ultimately the way we conduct business. A little bit later I’ll present four questions that come from Chuck Colson’s worldview. They are the premise for his book, How Now Shall We Live?. I have chosen to highlight his work because it illustrates a key point. Faith and reason often come to a point of crisis where we are confronted with choices. These force us to confess our commitments to a certain standard. Do they reflect truth, beauty and goodness in our business?
Chuck’s background story…
Early in Colson’s career, in 1969, he was appointed as Special Council to President Nixon. He was described as “the evil genius of an evil administration”, by David Plotz a writer for Slate magazine. In Colson’s own words, “I was valuable to the President… because I was willing… to be ruthless in getting things done”. He was deeply involved and ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison because of his part in the Watergate scandal.
It was during this time that Colson read a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and placed his faith in Jesus Christ. This required a massive shift in his presuppositions. After doing his time in prison he dedicated the rest of his life to prison reform. The change in this man’s life is quite remarkable. In his book, How Now Shall We Live, Colson states the four questions that mapped out where the foundation corners were laid and identified his presuppositions about life.
- Where did we come from?
- Why is there suffering in the world?
- Is there a solution?
- What is each person’s purpose in life?
My personal story
What follows is a story of how my presuppositions were challenged based on engaging in a new line of work. I’m thankful for these experiences because they greatly improved my clarity for future work – they cleared up what had been confusing in the past.
When my mother first asked me to join her in business back in the early spring of 2006, I was studying to be a pastor. Not only did I have no intentions of being a businessman, I was pretty sure that any endeavor to do so was less than holy. My presupposition was that there was a God, and that the only option for a fully devoted follower required going into ministry full time – and “full time” meant being a pastor, and being a pastor meant specifically within the confines of a local church.
I’ve since come to realize that not only is business a good work to which most (if not all) men and women are called, but it’s something we should give ourselves to fully. It is not in opposition to being a fully devoted follower of God, and should be pursued unashamed. Which brings me to acknowledging a previously undefined presupposition in my life… each of us is created by God in Christ Jesus for good works to glorify Him – this is our purpose in life!
Honing my interests…
Over the years, I’ve continued to immerse myself in the Bible to glean what it has to say about work, business and economics. I’ve taken a particular interest in those who consider themselves artists and craftsmen. Which has led me to ask questions like:
- What does it mean to be a good steward of God’s creation in a particular domain?
- In the process of doing so, how is wealth created?
- How does this equip me to love and serve God and others well?
I believe there is a great economy that God set up that calls us to partner with Him in leveraging the value latent in all of creation. During my time at Morning Star Fiber, I had come to appreciate this concept in the fiber processing world. Being a student/learner of God as a Master Craftsman is both fascinating and profound. The things that He has taught me over the course of time have had a deep impact on me and my business. But by the fall of 2017, I was faced with the reality that I was going to need a full hip replacement.
Not being able to understand the recovery time frame and the implications on my day to day involvement in Morning Star Fiber, it was becoming apparent that I had to develop an exit strategy. Running a small business often means that you’re a critical piece of the day to day operations. While I didn’t want to walk away from doing what I loved, I was realizing that other possibilities were not working out.
It was at that point that I began to catalogue those things that I loved doing and how I could best put those to good use to provide for my family. I had been able to demonstrate good throughput in the mill at a level of quality that was well received in the marketplace. I loved teaching others. And there was a real need in the market by other mill owners and mill start ups to employ what I had been able to learn.
Consulting & The Tenfold Project
Therefore when it became evident that consulting was the next right thing for me to do in my career it was simple for me to understand what I had to provide as a consultant. I had to introduce people to the story of what The Master Crafted, inspire joy-filled business in them, and transfer the tacit knowledge I had learned in textiles for their benefit. I believe these blessings are not just for those in niche textiles but for all craftsmen who are seeking to serve others well in their trade.
Not only are the principles invaluable, but when I woke up to this idea that we are all Master Crafted, and that He longs for us to reconnect to Him, to “enter into his workshop” (if you will) and learn from Him – that was a defining moment for me. I believe we were made for this kind of relationship with God, and that this is my highest level of contribution in making things right in a world where so many things have gone wrong.
Pursuing truth, beauty, and goodness
The Tenfold Project is about pursuing truth, beauty and goodness. I enjoy walking with others as we discover together the things that are unique to them. Ultimately, the principles in this program point to Jesus Christ as our teacher/creator. He is the source of our wisdom, and He is a great teacher. I have found Him to be a person who cares about each of us deeply, because he is the one who designed us to bear His image.
I truly believe that you will find this Tenfold Project to be completely inspiring and joy-filled. Every aspect of it has been designed to guide you in running a dynamic business that blesses you, your employees, your customers and ultimately the world. I’ve stated the purpose of Tenfold this way, “To lay a great foundation for your business to flourish and establish a culture within your team that perpetuates continuous improvement and better service of your customers.”
How Tenfold Helps Get Down To Business
Each quarter has specific goals and objectives which will help unlock the full potential in your business. At the beginning of each quarter, we will introduce the theme and give an overview of the scope of work that will happen over the following 12 weeks. There will be intentional focus on specific exercises that need to be catered to your mill’s needs within that course of action. These will ensure that we are on pace to accomplish the goal and its objectives by the end of the quarter.
Here are the themes broken down by quarter:
- Establishing THE Priority & Becoming a Rugged Essentialist
- Creating a Well Designed Workshop
- Assessing Production Quality, Eliminating Bottlenecks, and Increasing Your Capacity
- Creating Brand Identity & Engagement
If you’d be interested in learning more about the specific goals and objectives within these main themes please be sure to follow along by subscribing to our blog updates. Feel free to drop my an email, or schedule a time to chat by phone. Until next time, God bless and have a wonder-filled day that is full of truth, beauty, and goodness.