As organizations pursue opportunities that arise, whether they could do something must also consider whether they should do something when a broader perspective is considered. While difficult times like today’s pandemic may cause leaders to lean toward the could side, even now the should side must be considered.
Take the case of Federal financial support like the Payroll Protection Program made available to small businesses and organizations to help them retain employees in the early months of the pandemic. While intended for organizations that have no other sources of finance, we learned that several large organizations like Shake Shack, Auto Nation and Harvard University applied and received funds (applying by unit or department let them claim a bunch of small business.) Harvard, with a $40,000,000,000 endowment needs nine million dollars government aid to survive?
Could they use the cash? Of course, everyone can. Should they get the cash? Maybe not when actual small and mid-sized businesses struggle to get any funds. At least these organizations outed in public decided to return the money. There are hundreds more who were never heard from. When the Feds audit all the large loans, their names will come out. What will be the public and more importantly, customer reaction? It may turn out that just because they could get money, the hit to their reputation and consumer support may mean they should not have applied.