Saturday, December 16, 2006

Steffy: Root cause of Enron's fall

The Houston Chronicle's Loren Steffy, who writes a lot on the Enron debacle, writes an interesting piece again. As much as I sometimes disagree with Steffy and his writing, there are sometimes when he is correct.
The words, then as now, resound for anyone who has ever drawn a paycheck. Even if we love our jobs, there are days when that love alone isn't enough, when work is simply work, a mere financial necessity.

We may not commit crimes, but we've all inched toward the line at some time or other in the name of being a team player, a loyal employee, a good provider. We need the job. We make compromises. The boss tells us to. He tells us it's OK. He tells us he'll take responsibility. Only later do we find out he may also take the witness stand.

At the same time, I think it is entirely possible to create a network of self-reinforcing ethical practices that go beyond the law and policy where things are just done right. I know that is what I strive to do with my organization where we do it the right way, because, well, it is the right way. We comply with SOx and then go miles beyond that to effectively manage our business. That is just what we do.

I think that is where American and global businesses need to go. They need to re-develop the social technologies of truthfulness, ethics and trust. Those technologies paid dividends in the past and will do so again in the future.

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