xiii) Five Minds

Not realizing the importance of the 5 minds to handle the future (disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful and ethical), ie

"...a disciplined person should embody the ways of thinking and acting that distinguish a chosen discipline(s) and no just spew forth a lot of heterogeneous knowledge about the subject. A synthesizer should put ideas together in a way that is cogent and replicable, and not merely offer a convenient or cute package. A creating mind should be original and appropriate - sheer novelty or eccentricity or instant celebrity does not suffice. A respectful mind should transcend the intolerance, displaying active interest in and affection for those who look different, including those of low status. An ethical mind must comport itself in ways that support the broader profession and the wider society - even, or especially, when those actions go against one's narrow self-interest..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

- There is an increasing interest in ethical questions that were previously ignored. More people want to engage, ie work and live, with things that are meaningful. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that many major institutions have betrayed their purpose and encouraged unthinkable customs and practices, like conflict of interests. When senior management of these organisations are questioned about these activities, most answer with "everyone does it like that" and/or "it's always been done that way"


Key points about people with conflicts of interest

- give significantly more biased advice

- succumb to moral disengagement (over time, stop seeing a conflict as a moral or ethical issue
"...collective moral disengagement at the institutional level requires a network of employees vindicating immoral systematic practices......employees of the institution act together on a similar shared belief and in doing so provide exonerations for each other..."
Sunita Sah as quoted by James Thomson 2019

Many people have a perception that conflicted advisers succumb to self-interest in a deliberate, almost formal, decision to act corruptly. This is not the case
"...the reality is that many conflicts of interest that influence advisers occur on a subconscious and unintentional level..."
Sunita Sah as quoted by James Thomson 2019

Some of the best ways to handle conflict of interest are

- disclosure (research shows that when an expert discloses conflict-of-interest, he can make us trust him more)

- elimination (this is not always possible)

- encourage institutional signals
"...institutional signals from bosses, other employees, formal codes and ethical culture become very important......even conflicting authority commands - one ethical and one unethical - have been shown to reduce extensive unethical behaviour......live up to their duties when reminded of ethical norms..."
Michael Hodge as quoted by James Thompson 2019

- encourage doubt (this is a way of addressing your unconscious bias, ie 
"...in attempting to arrive at a solution for a problem, you should begin by doubting your capability and doubting your ability to overcome your conscious biases. That does not mean doubting that you consciously want to do the right thing - but that you might have certain ways of thinking and unconsciously undermine doing the right thing......use culture and leadership to attempt to overcome unconscious biases..."
Michael Hodge as quoted by James Thompson 2019

In 2016 Australian government regulators were saying to Boards, especially in the financial industry, to think about their culture, ie by answering questions about what the organisation stands for, its your purpose, values, principles, etc. Organisations also need to check that is there alignment between what the organisation says it stands for and what it is, ie  does it "walk the talk" (do its deeds back up the its words?) eg

- how much of what organisations says about itself is true?

- why are there gaps between what it says and what it does?

- what can be done to close the gaps? (Joanne Gray, 2016)

This involves 2 steps

i) to check the consistency of an organisation's purpose, values, principles, etc  - this involves talking to key stakeholders like customers, staff, investors, regulators, suppliers, etc.

NB There is a risk in mis-perception (see cognitive biases) or hypocrisy by the organisation in how it sees itself

ii) conduct an independent forensic examination of systems, policies, strategies, day-to-day practices like product design, remuneration systems, recruitment procedures, promotion systems, induction processes, financial accounting methods, what is reportable or non-reportable, etc.. Another way to look at this is what would a disinterested person who encountered their systems, policies and structure reasonably infer from this experience?


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