Integrity, and how values, principles, and practices
are integrated throughout the organization
Teaching vs. Dialogue. An
organization is essentially how and what it communicates.
Communication patterns, especially those with its environment,
describe the organization far better than organizational
charts. Organizational ethics surfaces fundamental values
and beliefs, and inspires and legitimizes dialogue into
their implications in daily life.
doubtful, of course, that anyone can teach adults ethics.
But the ethics that good upbringing begins can be developed
through dialogue. The ethics that are incompatible with
the purpose, values, and vision of the organization can
be influenced or constrained through dialogue as well, though
organizational alignment requires that the organization
be prepared to purge its ranks of those unduly out of sync.
In a supportive context, dialogue involving practical experience,
including case study, contributes to
reflection and deeper understanding of relationships and
practices that lead to individual and organizational self-realization.
does Organizational Integrity look like? The paradigm
for an organization with organizational integrity, in our
view, is best exemplified in the developing notion of the
organization is one that seeks to create its own future;
that assumes learning is an ongoing and creative process
for its members; and that develops, adapts and transforms
itself in response to the needs and aspirations of people,
both inside and outside itself. A learning organization
doesn't learn in order to achieve its mission. Learning
and growth is its mission.
heart of a learning organization lies the belief that enormous
human potential lies locked, undeveloped in our organizations.
Central to this belief is the conviction that when all members
of an organization fully develop and exercise their essential
human capacities, the resulting congruence between personal
and organizational visions, goals and objectives will release
M. Senge's book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art
and Practice of a Learning Organization, contains one
of the best descriptions we have found of a learning organization.
According to Senge, a learning organization is one that
is structured in a manner consistent with the essence(s)
of human nature. Senge is concerned with what he calls the
"higher" human essences, and believes that learning gets
to the heart of what it means to be human.
real learning is not just limited to understanding what
is necessary to survive ("adaptive learning"), but also
includes what he calls "generative learning." Generative
learning expands a human being's capacity to create the
results he or she truly desires.
learning may be a fundamental human essence, the process
of learning is quite complex. Learning itself includes three
different activities: thinking, communicating and cooperating.
When our capacities to think, communicate and cooperate
are enhanced, so is our ability to learn. Thus, a learning
organization is one which fosters and enhances these activities
for its members and members of the community in which it
Infrastructure, and Alignment. Once the organization
decides that it intends to be a learning organization, it
is necessary that it design and develop itself to learn.
Emerging global standards and best practices contribute
to this design and development, but there is no one or two
programs that will serve all or even most organizations.
the attached "Model"
to guide design and development. It is composed of 10 questions
in the first column followed by the answers provided by
the US Sentencing Commission and emerging global standards
and best practices.
Human Capacities. As far back as Aristotle, philosophers
have described what differentiates humans from animals in
such a way that includes these same three learning capacities:
the ability to think critically and creatively, the ability
to communicate ideas and concepts, and the ability to cooperate
with other human beings in the process of inquiry and action.
We call these "the Essential C3 Capacities." To define a
learning organization, therefore, we must take these capacities
us then make two assumptions:
That generative learning (which includes thinking, communicating,
and cooperating) is part of the essence of our humanity.
That to the extent those capacities are not fully developed,
maintained and applied, human potential is wasted.
then that for any organization to excel in the future and
not waste human potential, it must apply all the essential
capacities of those involved in its judgment processes and
in the decisions that result. This is the case, whether
an organization is developing visions and missions, goals
and objectives, strategies and structures, or policies and
versus Traditional Organizations. An ideal learning
organization will therefore be composed of persons who think
critically and creatively, considering all the factors involved
in understanding a matter, especially the points of view
of those affected. They will communicate ideas and concepts
among themselves effectively, as well as describe data and
desires. They will also be adept at cooperating with others
in both inquiry and action by first establishing trust.
example, Senge quotes Bill O'Brien of Hanover Insurance
in describing such a person in a managerial role:
or she feels comfortable with responsibility, digests
complex ideas, weighs different positions, and develops
solid reasoning behind choices. Other people listen with
care to what this person says. The person has larger aspirations
for family, company, industry and
learning organization is not only concerned with the Essential
Human Capacities of its members (owners, managers, supervisors,
and employees). It also wishes to address human potential
within the communities in which it would flourish (customers,
suppliers, neighbors, government and future generations).
Traditional, hierarchical organizations are designed to
provide for basic human needs: food, shelter, and belonging.
By contrast, learning organizations are designed to address
higher-order needs: self-respect and self-actualization.
organizations change by reacting to events. Their "reference
points" are external and often based in the past or on the
competition. They are often change-averse. Learning organizations,
by contrast, are vision-led and creative. Their reference
points are internal and anchored in the future they intend
to create. They embrace change rather than merely react
organizations sort people into "thinkers" and "doers." Essentially,
the doers are prohibited from thinking. Learning organizations
truly engage everyone. Their fundamental challenge is seen
as tapping the intellectual capacity of people at all levels,
both as individuals and as groups.
Are The Benefits? One benefit of becoming a learning
organization is that we release the enormous potential of
our members. More fundamentally, the framework described
above provides a foundation, a set of guiding principles
in relation to which other theories (such as the pursuit
of excellence, management by objectives, employee empowerment,
and principle-centered leadership) can be applied.
of these theories has value as far as it goes, but none
is founded on an understanding of the essential human capacities.
Therefore putting one of these theories into practice is
often more difficult, more disruptive and less beneficial
than it could be.
example Total Quality Management (TQM) theory places a great
emphasis on considering the needs and expectations of the
customer, as well it should. TQM places the customer above
other members of a community which includes those inside
and outside the organization. Thus, TQM has evolved to include
everyone in the definition of a customer. Members of the
organization who are not in direct touch with the public
are seen as "internal" customers and, we are told, should
therefore be included among those addressed by the program.
Likewise, the needs and expectations of suppliers should
be considered as though they were a customer. In one case
study even the Internal Revenue Service in its collection
capacity was deemed to be a customer. All this to apply
the theory of being "customer-driven."
learning organization follows a more fundamental principle:
that we should employ the human potential of all who are
involved in or affected by our choices and action, and that
we should anticipate the impact of such choices and actions
on this potential as we make policies. It follows that a
program which demands blind obedience to the decisions of
senior management and which does not consider the human
potential of those involved and affected (i.e., employees,
customers, suppliers, even the IRS if need be) will be seen
as dehumanizing. Moreover, the decision to implement TQM
should bear in mind the Essential Human Capacities of those
whom it affects at the front end, and not after the program
has been initiated.
highly popular book Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People: Restoring the Character Ethic by Stephen Covey
provides another example. In this book, Covey describes
three principles: "Think win/win," "Seek first to understand,
then to be understood," and "Synergize (creative cooperation)."
These are wonderful principles, but Covey does not state
why one should accept them. He makes the assertion that
they are based upon natural principles found in every enduring
religion, social philosophy or ethical system. Yet he goes
notion of the learning organization provides the underlying
foundation for those principles. It is obvious that our
capacity to think creatively and critically must be employed
if we are to "Think win/win." The ability to communicate
ideas and concepts must be exercised if we are to "Understand,
then be understood." And the human capacity for cooperative
inquiry and action comes into play when we engage in "Creative
cooperation." His principles reflect that which is
most essentially human about us.
An understanding of the essential human capacities provides
a foundation for organizations to comprehend and integrate
the skills, knowledge, habits, disciplines, principles and
practices that management theories urge upon us.
to these ideas, learning organizations will necessarily
consider the impact of their decisions upon suppliers, neighbors,
government and future generations. This results in genuine
involvement, higher quality judgments and opinions, and
a sense of shared vision for employees, customers, suppliers
and communities alike. In the final analysis, it is this
understanding which leads to:
A greatly improved product or service
major decrease in wasted resources
best opportunity to increase profits
sustained competitive advantage
governmental and community relationships
Design and Organizational Ethics