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Ethics as orientation

As ethics are intrinsic to strategy and performance, the competency for ethical judgment must be integrated as part of all management skills, processes and interactions.

There are no neutral decisions or actions in business. Every outcome expresses a set of values, presuming (or neglecting) some ethical commitment. In most organizations these moral dynamics are add-ons to other more pressing management priorities. But in the fast-emerging global reality these are becoming primary competencies. Already, the new managerial job description is to create wealth with responsibility:

  • To invest capital and focus innovations on opportunities that generate dignity and fairness as well as returns;
  • And to secure the health of the natural eco system as well as competitive advantage.

The core challenge of this emerging moral age will not be the problems, which are indisputable, but the quality, ingenuity and malleability of our response. We will need to bring every moral asset to the table to come close to matching expertise to the task. The collaboration will need to be multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural, breaking across silos of self-interest to unleash our best imagination against a shared purpose.

An Immersion In Creative Possibilities

It is facile to presume that any governance measures, disclosure laws or ethics codes will effectively address what are largely unknown quandaries. Instead of fixed ethical prescriptions we must encourage the commitment and moral creativity that flows from what the Swiss theologian Hans Küng calls an “ethical orientation.”

  • Rather than meet terms or conditions like a contract, orientation points to an aim or possibility that reflect human moral principles and ideals.
  • Rather than focus on compliance, an Ethical Orientation is animated by our personal intention to live our work with wisdom and purpose.
  • Rather than demark the minimums for propriety, an Ethical Orientation looks to the horizon of what is possible that enriches not only the economy but also our human freedom, dignity and creativity.
  • Rather than a means to assign blame, an Ethical Orientation extends the premise of accountability to make constructive contributions to society and the environment that also create opportunities for the enterprise.
  • Rather than impose another checklist for performance, an Ethical Orientation recognizes that our moral competence as managers grows as a dynamic process of continuous learning, dialogue and discernment.
  • Rather than protect reputation or defend decisions, an Ethical Orientation exercises the proactive integrity that strives to align words with actions, deeds with principles, and obligations with opportunities.

Orientation precedes Corporate Vision to both inform and guide long-term purpose and direction.

Orientation infuses Business Strategy to gauge the true threats and opportunities, and to situate risks and rewards.

Orientation permeates Company Culture to uncover the latent ethical and relational dynamics in all values and processes.

Orientation enables Persons to integrate their ethical skills and moral priorities with the expertise and competencies they bring to their daily tasks.

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