An enterprise is a “socio-economical system”. In order to qualify as an “ethical enterprise”, it has to provide an anxiety-free space for its “inner” stakeholders.

Landschaften1Anxiety is not a good motive and successful team work is never based on it. This sounds trivial, yet in many enterprises it is not something that goes without saying. An anxiety-free space is only possible if there is an enterprise culture based on values shared by everybody. And mutual trust must be one of the essential values.

This kind of culture and the underlying values cannot be synthetically generated. They must be lived and developed over the years.
What you need is role models, shared visions, many “evangelists” and time.

Landschaften3You cannot pay external counsellors and tell them to define the basic values of your enterprise. The attempt is often made, but it is always doomed. Neither should you print the enterprise values on paper and publish them in the escalators.

🙂 The enterprises where people use the stairs are probably the better enterprises, anyway.

Otherwise something similar to the following story might happen:

With the help of a wonderful counselling firm, the management of a company came up with the “seven golden values”. One of them seems particularly attractive and is therefore made into a poster:

“In our company, the people stand in the centre!”

Underneath, some dauber wrote:

“Where they are in everybody’s way!”

Landschaften2Important as a solid basis of values is, it is not enough. An enterprise that grows needs clear rules in addition to values. They make living together easier and help everyone to reach their decisions. That means that the rules are basically guardians towards the implementation of the values.

However, the rules must never degenerate to being ends in themselves. They must undergo constant critical re-evaluation, lest they no longer make sense or need modification or abolition.

That, too, is a huge challenge. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for enterprises with a works committee, where rules are often written down in works committee agreements. That is like they were carved in stone.

Landschaften4More often than not, these rules are clandestinely (and in various ways through the various departments) ignored altogether, or else interpreted differently. Of course, it is rather bad news for an “ethical enterprise” if rules and rituals have been decided on because they seemed to be necessary for rational reasons – and then nobody adheres to them.

Not to forget that times can change fast for a variety of reasons.

Landschaften5SAs pleasing as conservative values as such are: if you do not adapt to changing times, even the best of intentions can be easily exposed to ridicule – and a value basis that is good in principle can get damaged by lukewarm criticism. That would be a pity.

And here is something else that is really important!

Systems tend to make themselves and their own preservation the goal of their efforts. That is a huge danger to any enterprise. And an enterprise the sole final end of which it is to preserve itself will soon turn into a fascistoid system.

That is why an “ethical enterprise” needs a strong enterprise culture capable of resisting even developments typical for such a system.

(translated by EG)

Whenever I write about “social or eco-social systems” in my articles, I mean a group of people who assembled or were assembled in a system in order to reach common goals or act together.

Examples for such a social system are the family, a club, a community, an enterprise, or the state.

What I do not mean is the social security systems, even though they are often (and wrongly) called social systems by the common people.

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