Need for an Ethical Plan
Companies think nothing about having a business plan and a strategic plan. These are necessary to any organization that expects to be successful. What is lacking is an ethical plan. An ethical plan ensures that the organization’s leadership knows and understands what it takes to make and keep their company ethical, especially under stress.

Areas of Attention
Ethics are not a one-time thing. To ensure integrity over the long haul the leadership needs to pay attention to five specific areas:
ß Corporate culture – this aspect of the organization must be managed consistently. It should have a presence in every meeting and the response to every decision should be taken into account.
ß Company values – the values that are lived are not always the values that are espoused. This means that the organization must assess periodically what values are really being enacted in their every-day behavior. Misapplied values can lead to corruption, with disastrous consequences.
ß Structure and design – this is often a process improvement issue. The question is, what about the structure (both authority and policies/procedures) and or design of the organization gets in the way of people acting on their knowledge of right and wrong. This ties into risk assessment of the firms unique areas of liability.
ß Leadership – here it is not just how well the leadership performs, but how they do what they do that matters. Leaders are the keys to culture development. Is the leadership clear on their legacy and are they actively creating it?
ß Character – hiring for character rather than job skills may seem awkward, but it saves money in the long run. Skills can be taught, but character cannot be changed. To do this well the appropriate character traits have to be identified and hiring practices designed to support the choice.
First – measure/assess, create a baseline to start from, know where you are now. Second strategize what success will look like. What behaviors, practices, actions are needed to achieve the results you desire? What needs does your strategic plan dictate? These become your yardstick for success. Third, share these with everyone! Fourth plan your steps to change. Fifth continuously evaluate to ensure you are where you need to be.

Each of the five areas above should follow the five steps. Be sure to integrate each area so they are all in alignment. Everything should be driven by the requirements of your strategy. Cost reduction, rapid response to customer requests, first to market, each of these strategic imperatives requires specific fits in culture, values, structure, leadership and character.

The fit for character should begin at hiring. If your Human Resources Department is not part of your strategic team, then you need to bring them on board. They are critical to our organizations success and they only help if they know where the organization is going and what it needs.

Values, as Ethical Impact, Inc. uses them, need to be assessed to discover what lies under the hidden agendas that drive your culture. Being systemic in nature they are easily co-opted by well meaning people and applied incorrectly to situations. This difficulty in using the appropriate values creates unintentional corruption and real problems for the organization.

The key to a healthy and productive organization that is wisely daring and intelligently experimental is correctly fitting each of the five areas to the requirements of the strategy. Alignment is the name of the game. Done right, ethics come naturally and productivity increases. The process pays for itself.
An Invitation
If you have an ethical situation you would like analyzed, please send it in. We are not trying to discover right from wrong, but to discover why something happened, and more important, what can be done about it.

Author's Bio: 

Kathryn brings her serial entrepreneur, teaching and spiritual practice background to her work helping leaders and teams create and navigate the desired future. In her 22 years working with change in organizations she has learned the secret that effective organizations are ethical organizations. Working with leaders and teams to address the need to think differently about their problems, she has been instrumental in co-creating significant shifts in organizations. Her passion is creating communities that generate enlightened business practices.

Among her many client contributions are the Future Search strategic planning sessions she lead for the Department of Public Works in San Francisco. These sessions allowed the leadership to envision the future, plan, build teams and implement changes that brought the Department from being a thorn in the Mayor’s side to the 11th most improved in the nation within eighteen months. Working with the leadership team she facilitated their creation of internal and external structures to improve participation, communication and service; the development of teams to measure and improve the quality of service; improve the leaderships ability to work together; improve the service to both other government customers and the residents; improve vendor relationships and internal leadership capacity through the use of customized scorecards. This was done without creating friction with the Union.

The uses of her unique assessment for better understanding culture lead to an ease of implementation and clarity of relationship that accelerated the pace of change without generating friction or resistance. Her values assessments lead to rich discussions that uncover hidden conflicts that could generate ethical and legal issues for her client firms.

By combining her quality and measurement background with an understanding of the role relationships play in getting work done, she balances her approach between focusing on process and facilitating improved cultural dynamics, always with an eye on the impact on business results.

Kathryn has a Master’s degree in Organizational Development and Transformation and has done doctorate work at Saybrook Graduate School in the areas of systems thinking and organizational development.