Posts Tagged ‘trust’

My ten favorite posts of 2011

December 31, 2011


There were 112 Ethics Bob  posts in 2011, and 14,000 page views. Here are my ten favorites:

  • Ex-Auburn Prof Jim Gundlach gets a mythical Sam Goldwyn award* for speaking truth to power—to Auburn football
  • Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid
  • Drew Brees: ethics hero and football hero. He lives by “If not me, who?
  • Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award.
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) defends Muslim judge Sohail Mohammed, calls opponents “crazies.” Hooray for an ethics hero
  • Three cheers for Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Byron York of Fox News, and for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC
  • Ethics: I’m giving it away
  • LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn
  • Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street
  • Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl
  • The lesson from Penn State


Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid

March 20, 2011

I’ve written here about the remarkable honesty of—seemingly everybody—in Turkey. I got another example two days ago when our taksi stopped at our chosen restaurant in Gaziantep. The meter showed TL 7—about $4.00. Our friend Arzu Tutuk handed the driver a TL20 note. “Sorry, no change,” he said (in Turkish). “Here’s my card, just call me when you’ve finished dinner and I’ll take you back to your hotel. We can settle then.”

And so we did. After a sumptuous dinner at Imam Cağdas Arzu called the driver, he picked us up within two minutes, and she settled the bill for the round trip.

What’s remarkable about this story? The cab driver trusted a total stranger to go out of her way to pay him, when she could have stiffed him with impunity. It never occurred to the driver or to Arzu that the trust could be broken.

Hooray—again—for Turkish honesty.

A wallet-sized code of ethics

May 11, 2010

There’s something about bureaucracy that violates my sense of ethics. Bureaucracy represses one’s humanity. Humans want to make a difference in their lives, but bureaucracy forces conformity and sameness. One definition in the American Heritage Dictionary is “an administrative system in which the need or inclination to follow rigid or complex procedures impedes effective action.”

The bureaucratic system is founded on rules, supervision and enforcement by specialists and inspectors to make sure workers follow the rules, even when the rules deviate from common sense.

We need to move beyond it, but moving beyond it means shifting to a different form of control, one based on a strong sense of mission and a culture of trust, with authority and responsibility shifted from the few at the top to the many front-line workers.

This shift also requires that the organization have a strong ethical grounding. Ethics must replace the missing rules, but in many organizations what passes for ethics is merely another set of rules to comply with, and ethics training usually consists of badgering workers about bribery, conflict of interest and favoritism.

Enron had a nice 65-page code of ethics. The International City/County Management Association has a pretty good code of ethics except that it’s 2000 words long, has a 3200-word supplementary “Rules of Procedure for Enforcement,” and is written by lawyers or at least by people who have mastered esoteric, lawyerly writing. Most people can’t live by the ICMA code because they simply can’t remember any of it. (more…)


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