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Incorporating Ethics into the Organization's Strategic Plan
by Miriam Schulman
Management guru Peter Drucker was famous for asking his consulting clients the basic strategic question, "What business are we in?"
To integrate ethics into the strategy, businesspeople have to add three more questions, according to Robert Finocchio, Dean's Executive Professor at Santa Clara University:
The former president, CEO, and chairman of Informix Corp., Finocchio offered prescriptions for incorporating ethics into the organization's strategic plan and suggestions for implementation at the March 2006 meeting of the Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership, a project of SCU's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
As a first principle, Finocchio argued that ethics is not integrated into strategy by proclamation. He also put it more colloquially: "Whenever someone tells me how honest or ethical he or she is, I hold on to my wallet."
While ethics should be part of the company's mission statement, long-term strategic plan, public pronouncements, and codes of conduct, unless it is also a "cornerstone of the organizational culture," it will not be effectively integrated into the business strategy, he said.
To really incorporate ethics, he presented these "prescriptions":
Finocchio went on to offer two practical suggestions for implementing his prescriptions: making an ethics performance evaluation part of the organization's standard end-of-year assessment and creating a strategic plan ethics checklist for the coming year.
The ethics performance evaluation would look at how the organization actually behaved, including such issues as transparency and opportunities for celebrating ethical behavior. The company would examine whether its actions over the past year had been consistent with its purpose and values.
In planning for the next year, the company would ask itself a series of questions, including:
Finocchio's presentation was part of a two-day meeting of the
Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership. Other speakers
at the March Partnership meeting included Dan Sweeney from the
Center for Corporate Excellence on "Tone at the Top and
Executive Compensation"; Stephan Rothlin, general secretary
of the Center for International Business Ethics in Beijing on
Ethics in China" ; and Frank Daly, Markkula Center
Fellow, Eric Pressler, Apple Computer, and Sam Piazza, Hewlett
Packard, on "Rules-Driven and Values-Driven Ethical Approaches:
Miriam Schulman is the communications director of the Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics.