An Uphill Climb

In a recent article I read, the author talked about how technology is disrupting the way work is done both nationally and internationally. Companies like Facebook and Uber have, within a few short years, achieved market values greater than 80 percent of the companies on the S&P 500. They have corporate structures, processes, and systems, but unlike the large corporations that have been around for decades, they do not have thousands of employees.

More than just the computer, technology is disrupting business models across the world and rendering many traditional methodologies obsolete. Brick and mortar stores like Macy’s and jcpenney are struggling to create new workable models in an environment where technological innovation is forcing a brutal transformation.

Add to this many companies are merging, and their organizations are growing more complex as their size increases. Managing these larger, more complex organizations successfully is a daunting task. Managing Ethics and Integrity issues in these demanding times also grows more challenging. The near constant demand to control costs in a low growth, low profit world puts intense pressure on companies to find savings. Many times training programs of all kinds become an easy target; ethics and integrity training included.

This unrelenting pressure claims high-profile victims every year. Whether it’s Wells Fargo Bank’s epic ethics failures, or MD Anderson’s failure to follow basic rules in placing millions of dollars in contracts involving a state of the art technology created by IBM, the number of companies that fail to comply with their compliance obligations grows each year.  There is an area of risk that risk managers content with almost daily. Regardless of the fact that most companies have a range or resources that focuses on compliance and ethics, they do not provide certainty. The number of companies that must work under a Consent Decree or Deferred Prosecution Agreement give proof to that reality.

The list of companies that fail to meet requirements and standards grows every year, and companies struggle every day to avoid being added to the list. The question one needs to ask is if the old business models are being transformed as we speak, why do so many companies still rely on canned training programs that drive managers and employees to check the boxes at the appropriate places?

If the example of Wells Fargo and dozens of other companies teach us anything, it is that existing programs do not drive the cultural changes necessary for modern complex organizations to succeed long-term. We at The Ethics Workshop believe that a series of relatively small incremental steps, consistently applied and reinforced over time, will sow the seeds for real cultural changes in this demanding environment. We invite you to reach out to us and consider having a brief conversation. You have nothing to lose and potentially something to gain. To learn more please visit our website to view these offerings in more detail.

Each month I remind my readers in and around the Houston area that I support a business cooperative called Services Cooperative Association. SCA is an non-profit entity that helps people become successful business owners and entrepreneurs and it does this through regular workshops and a variety of training options. If you know someone with the desire to start a business, invite them to visit the website.

Food for Thought:  Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. (Helen Keller)

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