Time is just a fraction of duration, a moment existing between two other moments.
No matter how loudly you yell at it to hurry up, a caterpillar won’t turn into a butterfly any faster. Nature works at its own pace – it takes a few weeks to produce a butterfly and a whole lifetime to produce an adult (or more, as André Malraux suggested).
Unfortunately, in the past few years, people have been trying to move faster and faster, attempting to reduce that moment between two moments to zero. Our quest for speed has led us to replace real time with immediacy, which is an imitation of time, without taking a moment to realize what losses this implies.
Yet, when we react to situations on the spot instead of taking our time, we forget that learning how to think does not happen overnight, that reading a book from cover to cover takes longer than reading a summary on the internet, and that it takes a long time to become well educated, to learn how to form enlightened opinions, to become able to think for oneself, and to create. Nothing valuable or lasting is produced instantaneously.
Now that we’ve decided that we don’t have time anymore, we do away with thinking and we desperately try to create the new by copying the old, hoping to get away with it.
Unwilling as we so often are to take the time to mull things over, as soon as an ethical issue surfaces, we run to the web to find out what standards or rules others have used to deal with similar situations, we check our competitors’ ethical values, and then we go ahead and cut and paste. Voilà! Mission accomplished. No need for thinking. As for the ethical level of our decisions, well, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.
This is what we call mass-produced ethics. It’s all about a line of thinking consisting of generalities, more often than not put together by an all-knowing consulting firm for a corporate customer other than you in a context that was different from your own. Mass-produced ethics is a one-size-fits-all recipe.
In 2017, when it comes to ethics, people are still just cutting and pasting borrowed ethical formulas from the internet rather than taking the time required to think and create. Experience has shown us that few organizations choose to engage in a critical and enlightened thought process and develop ethical tools that are suited to their corporate culture and business environment. Why? It’s simply because decision-makers choose to see ethics as a restriction instead of realizing what potential it holds for them.
The time has come to stop borrowing ethical content from the web and applying mass-produced formulas while pretending to have thought deeply. These actions are just for show and have no substance.
Made-to-measure ethics helps your company navigate the stormy seas of conflict of interest and the usual ethical lapses while building a capital of trust that consolidates your reputation. Today’s visionary leaders make ethical mindfulness a central part of their corporate strategy to make sure their company survives to outpace its competitors by avoiding the pitfalls of unethical business practices.
Visionary leaders invest in made-to-measure ethics tailored to their specific corporate culture and business environment, and they make it a distinctive strategic advantage. Mass-produced ethics, meanwhile, can only mimic genuine ethical management while attempting to right the wrongs that were caused by a lack of ethical thinking in the first place.
Mass-produced ethics is just a showpiece, while made-to-measure ethics helps you deal with real life situations.
There is a huge difference between the two: it is the difference between window-dressing and honesty, between pretending to care and living by ethical principles.
If you have any doubts, think of what happened to Volkswagen after it had signed every expected compliance agreement without ethical sincerity.
Putting off ethical thinking until tomorrow means running the risk of failure as of today. Thought must come before action.
What are your ethical goals for 2017?