I happened to come across an article entitled “The Evolution of Blind Acceptance“, and immediately the thought of corporate conscience came to mind. If you’re familiar with what I write about, you’ll know that one of my lines is “If your business does not give great value to ALL stakeholders, you have no business being in business”. We all know that this is a tall order for many businesses. All too often, things aboard a once-taut ship start to break loose from where they’re supposed to be, and before you know it, they start to come apart. That’s when the ship starts to sink. Negligence is a slow, silent killer. Conscience is one of its victims. Here’s a short story to illustrate this.
Several years ago, we moved into a house in Rochester Park. The MRT east-west line ran less than 100 metres away. There was a row of abandoned houses between us and the MRT line. When we first moved in, we found that it was terribly noisy. Whenever the trains ran past, which was very often, we often had to shout to make ourselves heard. However, less than a week later, we scarcely noticed the noise. It had blended into the background and was no longer noticeable. Then, the row of abandoned houses between us and the MRT line was demolished. Suddnely, we noticed the trains running again. However, this time the noise again faded away into the background, but within less than two days. Where corporate conscience is concerned, it tends to fade away into the background in similar fashion. When this has to do with letting things slip a little at a time, it is deadly.
So how do we keep corporate conscience alive? One of the foremost things to be done is to maintain a corporate moral gyroscope. Most of these moral gyroscopes don’t differ very much, they all say pretty much the same thing. So, it’s not really important which brand you happen to like. What is essential is that you follow through with what you said you would do. DWYSYWD, in other words.
The second is to establish a culture of requiring, recognizing and rewarding good character. This has to be more than a once-a-month town hall meeting where you pick out the “Employee of the Month” for outstanding performance and demonstrated good character. It has to be an everyday walk by the organization’s top leaders. Cascade happens. It’s up to you to decide whether they are good cascades or bad ones.
Springing off from that, a third way we can keep corporate conscience alive is by conscious and deliberate practice of good habits until we no longer notice that we are practising good habits. When instilling good habits, which forge good character, comes to the level of unconscious competence, we are then getting somewhere. We know this has happened when others drop by and compliment us on things we never even think of anymore!
Is keeping your corporate conscience alive important to you? It should be if you want to be running a ship that will be in service for many years to come. Take these simple steps I talked about. You’ll find that it would be well worth your time!