Saturday, 25 May 2013

The apparent trouble with values, ethics and morals


CEOs love to live their (expendable) values, but not their morals is a great blog post by Toby Webb Founder of Ethical Corporation.

It's Thomas Midgeley day a post by Seth Godin is also on this topic.

Seth’s post links at the bottom to a July 2011 post by him No such thing as business ethics.

“Ethics, also known as moral philosophy which refers to the reflection upon moral actions, it is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct."  In philosophy, ethics studies the moral behavior in humans, and how one should act.”

“Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are "good" (or right) and those that are "bad" (or wrong). A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness."”

I list the above to demonstrate that ethics and morality can be confusing subjects.  Throw in self-righteousness or fundamentalism or however you wish to describe the “my way is the only way” edict, and the waters are definitely muddied.

As is often the case solutions to complex issues are usually simple. There is a simple solution in organisational life to living values - agree on the behaviours that demonstrate the words and measure how people live them and make such measurement integral to everything to do with performance.

Simple solution right?!  Of course the devil is in the execution.

In my experience it is possible to reach agreement with other people on what doing the right thing means.  It is also possible to co-create an organisational culture of catching people doing things right.  Such cultures are a breeding ground for high performance.

Embracing simplicity and possibility are keys to success in the modern world.  Neither is easy.  If living a good life however was easy there would be no need for blog posts like this!

What’s your view, your experience?  I would love to know.  The more we share what we believe to be right and reach a shared-view about what this means behaviorially, the better our world will be.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Ian
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