A common way of thinking

On a regular basis to the Thursday I participate in a chat on innovation (#innochat) which gives me great pleasure because of the high quality of information that there is always shared.

For this last #innochat (you can see here a recapitulation) @DrewCM wrote a good article that served as a frame to the discussion- Nature. Nurture. Nightmare. What does it take to build an innovative enterprise?

Among the issues proposed for discussion were:

–      What do you think it takes to build an innovative enterprise?

–      How do the ends justifies the means?

We exchanged many ideas but still it seems useful to leave here a reflection on this theme.

I think that innovative companies are companies that people admire and in which eventually they would like to work. But are they companies where ethics has an important role in its activities?

Looking for images of innovative companies there seems to be a strong correlation between innovative companies and business ethics.

Companies that promote respect and trust between employees and where these are protected, encouraged and rewarded are flexible and able to take risks, but not at any cost.

They are companies where leaders regularly send signals that are absorbed as integral parts of a culture of ethics and of innovation.

They are companies that facilitate the expression of new ideas and opinions and where workers are considered collaborators so everyone can feel that they are an important part in the development of the organization.

Respect and trust are values that arise by exercising responsibility whatsoever of managers or employees, and which is also an important motivational factor.

The respect and trust that grows when managers don’t have always the correct answer and hear alternative voices in an open communication way.

“We don’t act a certain way because we have a virtue, but rather it is the other way around. We have that virtue because we behave that way repeatedly, over time.” – Aristotle

But it’s not always like that! Often we are questioned to what extend the means justify the ends when we see that, for example, there is a lack of ethics in how some subcontracts between organizations are performed.

Humans “have a tendency to exaggeration” and often overestimate how ethical is their behavior.

So until the leaders see their ethical conduct as essential for achieving the business goals, a lot of water from the river passes under the bridge.

Ethics should be always one of the banks of this river when leaders need to make decisions and not a boat adrift in those waters.

How do businesses balance the need to obey the laws of market speed and integrity in decision making?

How can we have a “play to win” and demonstrate an impeccable ethical behavior?

How can we crush the competition without anyone quit injured with lack of ethics?

How can we maintain an atmosphere of trust with employees if the leaders tended to handle customers?

“With so much ignorance about ethics, it is worth asking whether it is even possible to change the way that companies behave? Is it possible ethical companies are born, not made? Manzoni believes that it is possible to make companies more ethical; however, it is a long and hard process that revolves around organisational culture. To Manzoni, organisational culture is not simply about the mindset and values of the company, but about actions and practices. He quotes Goffee and Jones:

Culture comes down to a common way of thinking, which drives a common way of acting.”Grace Segran

It seems that while the organizational culture takes a good and given time to build up, the benefits inherent to it can disappear quickly if they are not fed.

What do you think of this?



3 Responses to To promote ethics and innovation is a trip with no finish line

  1. Hi Jose;
    Interesting post, the title reminded me of something I had been thinking for a while which is applying the principles of Lean and continuous improvement to the development of culture and ethics within an organisation.

    This would make it a conscious and rewarded activity to develop practices leading to increasingly ethical approaches to daily business life.

    I also think it would be possible to measure the bottom line impact of improved ethical behaviour.

    I’m in good company here as Plato records Socrates discussion with Thrasymachus in Republic where Socrates makes a strong case for the functional superiority of ‘moral’ behaviour. To my mind this assertion remains as true today as it was then. Those desiring success in business have nothing to fear from practising ethics.

    Best Wishes


    • Jose Baldaia says:

      HI Mike!
      Thanks for the comment!
      I agree that the leaders or managers don’t have to fear ethics to succeed. I believe that a permanent activity shrouded in ethics is the success itself.

  2. Maxine Horn says:

    Glad to read this article Jose. Trust and ethics need to be inherent – they are not characteristics businesses can use to jump on a marketing ‘brand wagon’

    Our own business product & service
    (www.creativebarcode.com) was built to encourage ethics & trust within innovation. These are characteristics most people live by personally so why should it be so hard for them to apply the same characteristics in their business lives?

    Is it purely the pressure of competition?

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