Complicit or Ignorant – Culture must be the People’s Choice

Perhaps the greatest drawback of human development is its latency. Humankind is quite often its own worst enemy. We are quick to judge, find fault when we can’t see immediate improvement or advancement in things like technology, legislation or policy and yet somehow fail to realise that it is we who determine this advancement and ultimately it is the time in which it takes us to change that is the hardest hurdle of all to overcome.

In our current disruptive world, things simply cannot happen soon enough. Our appetite for the ‘next best thing’ is insatiable and if we can’t see immediate cause and effect results, things are somehow flawed.

This goes to the very heart of our own development. We are forgetting ourselves and our collective environment. We are not being creative. We are applying economic and monetary mantra and letting the humanistic side of our psyche slip silently away in a morass of inertia. I have spoken previously about this in my blog post on education not being a commodity and I am seeing the same scenario being played out more recently in the Dairy industry.

Without going into details in relation to the Dairy Co-Operatives and the oligarchical supermarket chains vice grip on supply and demand, our ethical decision-making as individuals and groups is being clouded by monetary gain and the provision of shareholder dividends. The same simple process is being applied; cut costs and you will increase profit. Very, very simple. But. To what end. And now, dairy producers are being told to repay monies previously paid to them because it was laid out in a contract? The line of legal versus ethical is no longer blurred. Legality is being used to mask ethics. Its legal so therefore it must be ethical.

Legality does not, and will never, remove the sanctuary of ignorance.

Decision makers – when it comes to their own kind (people) cannot use ignorance. They are either complicit or ignorant – it is a simple choice. As we know to be trite law, ignorance, is never allowed in a legal sense, then the level of a person’s complicitness must be in direct proportion to their decisions and their decisions about people.

Were P&L bottom lines not the issue, then complicitness would be removed as a factor because decision viability and the people involved would be the only marker. Is it a good decision or a bad decision? Its time to transcend traditional return on investment culture. BuLogics and StratIS in Philadelphia, USA are triple bottom line growth companies. This means they are focused on revenue growth but just as importantly, they are also focused on social impact, and environmental change. In other words a culture of sustainability. Their choice is complicitness in sustainability. Constant cost cutting will only ever lead to one thing; extinction. Races to the bottom will only every result in ultimately returning nothing because these decisions are asking for everything, by offering nothing. No balance. Dichotomies in thinking.

These are problems that businesses, like the milk industry giants and other companies who do not consider the improvement of their business’s cultures based on social impact and environmental change through their people, will face with ever-increasing frequency. And the difficulty in this conundrum, is that often business do not know or realise that they need to change culture. They often feel that it is the need to innovate that will get their business soaring. Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box summed it up best when he said, Innovation is hard because “solving problems people didn’t know they had” & “building something no one needs” look identical at first. If a business doesn’t know they have a cultural problem, that generally equates to not realising that they need to change.

So how do we do this. Firstly, we need to allow everyone involved in the enterprise to be a decision maker. This, innately makes everyone complicit and removes ignorance because it requires an understanding. We enable the entire organisation to design the direction of the business. We don’t have the executives of a business determine the business direction because this fosters ignorance at all levels. Lack of ownership reduces the level of complicitness and removes ethics from the decision-making process. To illustrate this point and end this blog with a way forward, an article by Mindshift quoting Christopher Emdin, an Associate Professor at Columbia University, indicates that when ownership of an issue is democratised (in this case amongst teachers and students; read managers and subordinates) students develop the agency or power to act in ways that challenge the oppression they are often conditioned to be silent about.

The become complicit, culturally. They are changed, culturally. We are all, changed, culturally.

 

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