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Breaking All the Rules…The Tension Between Innovation and Ethics

by HCI on September 27, 2010


hci's picture

Breaking All the Rules…The Tension Between Innovation and Ethics


by Joy Kosta

Two articles in the business section of last Sunday’s New York Times got me to thinking... ”Does It Pass the Smell Test” was about the position a person is in when their leader asks them to bend or break the rules and do something unethical at work. Has the economy moved people to take extreme measures? It’s a slippery slope when you go along the first time, for example because you are a new hire learning the ropes, and when more experienced talent asserts themselves to do the right thing, the article points out, they may be passed over for promotion. Leaders can avoid this dilemma and set an ethical tone with behavioral standards.

On the other hand, sometimes innovation requires such out of the box thinking it breaks the rules by definition. The article, ”Turning Customers Into Creators” takes co-creating vision outside the realm of talent management and involves customers in designing new services and products. Collaborative leadership encourages innovating with customers. As a leader how do you keep track of innovation from your customers? And when customers ask for new types of services, can you use on-line mentoring and discussion groups to help figure out how to meet those needs?

It’s interesting that two apparently contradicting dynamics — breaking the rules for innovation and asking people to do whatever it takes to bring in the numbers, can both bring out the best in your talent, and pull a team together. What’s your view on managing the tension between these two goals?

Today I had the opportunity to speak with a large financial institution whose HR generalists are being asked to partner with managers on business issues, and coach managers to build talent capability. If you lead talent in any capacity, join us at our Learning & Development conference in Boston Nov 15-17 — hope to see you there!

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marco-cesare's picture

Will Corporations understand such tensions ? How can you discover talent in the org chart's fog ?