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What is the "real" purpose of this Web Site?

Having seen human beings at both their finest and ugliest, we believe that lack of appreciating the systemic nature of life and living contributes to many an ethical or policy shortcoming. We are not na´ve enough to believe that there is no evil in the world, or that greed or fear do not often override judgment. But with these in mind, the site is intended to serve three purposes:

  • First, it offers a framework toward understanding and dialogue to help leaders and their organizations shape a better world.
  • Second, it offers the world the opportunity to dialogue on issues of importance.
  • Third, for those who have found our approach to be of value, it affords us the opportunity to offer our services to help leaders shape their organizations.

Why do you refer to Organizational Excellence, but concentrate on Organizational Ethics and Integrity?

Part of the success of democracies and free markets is that, as institutions, they bring together diverse sets of skills, knowledge, understanding, and attitudes to create more complex wholes to serve the community better than any single part could do individually. Our contribution to the world as a community is to develop a model and approach to organizational life that will help leaders understand, plan, and execute their roles more effectively, efficiently, and ethically.

Organizational Integrity is a fundamental concept that is best achieved through designing and developing the organization itself as a Learning Organization. Of this we are quite confident. Organizational Ethics is the specific contribution we make toward helping leaders design, implement, and develop the ethics/ compliance aspects of the Learning Organization. What will constitute Organizational Excellence, however, is much more particular to any given organization. At the lowest level, it is being better than the competition. At a somewhat higher level, it is being better than one has been before. But, at the highest level we can conceive presently, excellence is serving a broader community well, which necessarily requires developing and maintaining the harmony, intensity, and vividness appropriate to all occasions. Hence, we do not presume to be able to define excellence for an organization. We are confident, however, that an organization that does not have Organizational Integrity, that is, that is out of sync with its involved and affected stakeholders and its environment, cannot be excellent over time, if at all.

So, Ethical Edge concentrates on what we have to offer by working with other leaders who apply our insights with their own experiences to a particular organizational culture and current condition, and within a particular systemic context to achieve the Organizational Excellence of which Organizational Integrity is an integral part and Organizational Ethics is an essential tool.

What ethics & policy services do you offer?

Our consulting services are offered through Strategies for Responsible Business. Our principal service is helping organizations integrate their principles throughout the organization. Many organizations, especially in the health care fields, are struggling to meet compliance program "guidelines." But the best research available in this maturing field demonstrates that formal program characteristics are less important to the success of a program than (1) management's motivation and justification of the program; (2) management's follow-through on the program; (3) the culture of the organization itself; and (4) its ethical and legal environment.

This requires an integrated approach with attention to ethical leadership, program requirements, organizational culture, and the organization's environment. This is much more comprehensive than merely meeting some governmental agency's requirements for a compliance program. It is generally a change process with all the challenges that entails.

Our services can be provided in a number of interrelated ways:

  • Trouble-shooting
  • Ethics & policy coaching
  • Ethics & policy presentations
  • Management consulting, emphasizing ethics and change management
  • Training & development, especially critical thinking and ethical judgment
  • Special project team member for merging corporate cultures, strategic planning, or ethics/compliance program implementation
  • Ethics/Compliance Program Assessments

Why would I want an ethics & policy coach?

Successful leadership requires the ability to objectively see the big picture-and be able to explain it to others. Often this objectivity and vision is lost in dealing with the pressures of the day. There is never enough time to read all the books. And when time is taken, there is seldom someone around to discuss what one has learned from the reading. An ethics & policy coach provides someone engaged but objective enough to help senior managers and other professionals see this big picture-and be able to communicate it to others.

The ethics & policy coach is a trusted advisor who helps senior managers work through issues that engage both the depth and breadth of an organization. Senior managers, including general counsel, may feel the need to implement an ethics/compliance program or may have started such a program, but wonder how to integrate its vision and values more completely. There may be ethics issues or even crises where it is valuable to have someone facilitate a more objective or comprehensive look at the situation.

As a senior manager, you know your organization. We believe that a trusted advisor fully conversant in the fundamentals of ethics and policy study can enhance the objectivity and vision of senior management.

How does ethics & policy coaching work?

Ethics & policy coaching is a structured approach to developing your own comprehensive approach to ethics issues. It may involve face-to-face meetings, but can generally be accomplished through regular telephone calls, frequent e-mail communications, and guided readings.

Depending upon your needs, developing your best approach and framework roughly follows the order of the seven questions about organizational ethics:

  • Develop an understanding of the concepts and values of ethics.
  • Explore the developing relationship between law and ethics, and its implications.
  • Build a paradigm of organizational integrity.
  • Develop the role of ethical leadership.
  • Appreciate the significance of national and organizational cultures.
  • Consider in detail ethics/compliance program implementation.
  • Develop a program to assess organization integrity.

Throughout the process, selected readings are recommended with reader's guides to assist in understanding. Part of each weekly telephone call is used to develop the significance of the readings and to raise any questions the readings the client might have. Multiple intelligences are employed. Key concepts are developed graphically to aid understanding and communication to others.

The balance of each session is devoted to issues you wish to raise. Between sessions, you may submit questions regarding the approach, framework, or issues of interest via e-mail as often as you wish. If appropriate, face-to-face meetings or presentations by the coach at any point along the way may be arranged.

What if we decide that more than coaching is required?

We offer more services than coaching, though coaching is usually the best way to establish a relationship and determine what more is needed. These services include:

  • Ethics and policy program review
  • Ethics/compliance program implementation and assessment
  • Presentations on ethics and policy issues
  • Participation in special projects, especially strategy formulation

Whether you have an ethics/compliance program or are considering one, an outside review can be helpful. If you choose to implement a program, we can assist you in developing your approach, assembling your team, or evaluating proposals from outside consultants. We care passionately about the significance of ethics and policy for achieving success, learning, and growth in an organization. Presentations may be designed to "make the case" for an ethics/compliance program, raise ethical awareness, or address current ethical issues. Where fundamental visions and values are in conflict, ethics & policy mediation may be appropriate. Finally, we are available to serve as a member of a special project team to integrate the organization's vision and values throughout the organization. This includes board retreats, departmental conferences, strategy development sessions, and program review.

With your Marine Corps service, is this a hierarchical, command-driven approach?

Au contraire. The principal challenge to organizations of all stripes is to develop an organizational culture that fits its vision and values. If one compares the elements of the visionary, high-performance business organization with the values and practices of the U.S. Marine Corps, the similarities are striking. The Marine Corps is an organization that joins over 20% of its people every year, but operates in an environment that puts the highest possible premium on leadership and understanding organizational purpose, values, and vision at all levels to achieve an organizational vision. In a combat environment, everyone must share the same purpose, quickly and clearly communicate, and be prepare to lead immediately when called. The entire approach to Marine Corps training, education, and development is designed to accomplish these.

Your organization requires no less to meet the challenges in its environment. Through highly integrated recruiting, training, education, development and operations, the Marine Corps develops and maintains a culture that endures. Some of its techniques are not appropriate or practical in most environments, and we take that into account, but there are many valuable lessons to be learned in how it builds its leadership and shapes its culture.

Are you providing legal services as an attorney?

Although Ken Johnson is an attorney licensed in California and Arizona (inactive), organizational ethics is more comprehensive than complying with the law itself. It is this integrating of ethics and law that intrigues us. Legal issues, of course, are never far removed from ethical issues. Since, they must be addressed at virtually every turn, we work closely with counsel to the organization, and do not provide independent legal advice.

What should I look for in a coach?

A coach works with a client to allow him or her to learn and grow at a comfortable pace. An ethics & policy coach must be conversant with the issues facing organizations in general and skillful at helping the client analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the matters of importance to him or her: must be able to bring multiple perspectives and multiple considerations to bear. But beyond this, the relationship between the coach and client must be characterized by flexibility, ease of communication, complete confidentiality, and shared purpose.

You should have an understanding of the vision and values of the coach. Our approach and framework are laid out in some detail in this site. If the approach and framework developed here are intriguing, then we are well on our way.

Assuming I am "intrigued," how do we get started?

It is usually best to begin with a series of meetings to get to know one another. Face-to-face meetings can be arranged at a reasonable cost to you if outside of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. One or two telephone meetings, at no cost to the client, are usually enough to develop a relationship that can grow.

During these meetings, we get to know each other's personalities, backgrounds, needs, and desires. We use appreciative inquiry to begin to determine the client's needs and desires. We develop specific phases, milestones, and objectives for the initial coaching process.

Following these meetings, we prepare a proposal detailing our recommended program, a set of deliverables to meet your needs, and a fee schedule.

Do you guarantee your services?

In a word, "yes." You must always be fully satisfied or fees will be refunded in full. Our services, especially coaching, are highly personal. If at anytime you are dissatisfied with our services, any fees paid for those services will be promptly refunded. We ask only that you explain why you are dissatisfied so that we can learn and grow from the experience, too.

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