Tuesday, February 14, 2006

      Recommended Read : No Innocent Bystanders

This article 'No Innocent Bystanders', talks about how usually people tend NOT to take responsibilities for their mistakes; the finger is always pointing outwards in self-defence. They feel that they are victimised by circumstances and other people who are beyond their control. This victimised perspective denies chances for self-reflections and learning from mistakes.

The author, Susan Cramm claims that "...what really matters is not what happens to you or around you; what matters is how you respond and what you learn from it. Unfortunately, most people have a difficult time acknowledging their own accountability for the messes they find themselves in..."

These are excuses we often hear, "But they wanted it done cheaper and faster." "But they didn't involve me." "By the time I got it, it was already a mess." "He's always been like that." are indicators of denial of responsibilities.

The teaching of this article is very similiar to the 1st Habit - Being Proactive; we have to take responsibilities for our choices that we make. As much as we cannot control circumstance and other people, we can control our reactions to these externalities. By changing ourselves to react to these in a positive manner, we can INFLUENCE things to happen in the way that we want.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

      Ethics, Where Have You Gone To?

Some time ago, I decided to go against Management's decision to withhold some project information and I ended up leaving the company. Some would have said that it was no big deal. The act itself would not hurt anyone and it was for the good of the company... Or so some would say.

This article talks about how infamous corporate scandals like Enron's is an accumulation of small (mis)acts lacking in ethics. Another closer to home issue is the NKF saga, which town folks discredited the management with much disdain and disgust.

Often onlookers look on with disgust and they ask how such acts can happen in large corporations, where corporate policies and layers of controls exists. In my view, its the small, harmless acts of compromising our integrity and ethics that accumulated to such big scandals.

In fact, everyone one of us is faced with such ethical decisions everyday. When it comes to reporting profit and lost, without over using "accounting creativity". During audits, how many issues are swept under the carpet, hoping auditors don't discover them. They forgot the intention of audit is not only to catch mistakes, but also for continous process improvements. How to improve if mistakes are always covered up? What about the manager who did not dare question the viability of a project and continue with a project doomed to fail from the onset, with misinformed expectations, and impossible constraints? Who would have the morage courage to say 'No' and raise questions that open many cans of worms that may makes senior management looks bad, and promotion chances greatly reduced?

Ethics, something that is no longer highly regarded and advocated today. Often they are overlooked in favor of monetary and materialistic terms. Ask a kid what he wants to be; maybe a celebrity, a doctor, a sports star? The reason underlying is often fame, status, fortune. Who wants to be a CEO so that he can contribute to society? Who wants to be a teacher so that he can teach ethics and integrity?

I know, all these sounds like too much altruism. Hello?! Wake up! Its the 21st century. Do I hear the crowd groaning as I talk about ethics? Who's gonna read my nonsense here anyway?

Sometimes I wonder where the values that past great leaders displayed have gone to; People like Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Yue Fei. Where did they learn good values from? Can you help it that nobody uses ethics to guide their actions, in a world where ethics is no longer valued? Ethics, where have you gone to?