Mary Gentile believes the real challenge for business students, employees, and executives isn’t knowing what’s right, but knowing how to act on those convictions within an organization. In her recent book, Giving Voice To Values: How To Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right, she gives seven pillars for an organization or an individual to voice those values: a) values or hyper norms b) enacting choice c) normalization d) higher purpose e) Self-knowledge f) practicing voicing those values and g) reasons & rationalizations. Of these, the most remarkable is c) normalization. Most of the common value calls made in an organization are standardized and consistent across companies.
The biggest obstacles to voicing our values is what Mary calls pre-emptive rationalization. The four biggest pre-emptive rationalizations are: 1) the issue is not materially significant enough to matter 2) it’s standard practice to do that 3) If I acted this way, I may be disloyal and 4) it’s not my responsibility (the Nuremberg Defense). Interestingly, with #4, it concedes there is something morally wrong.
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