“Greed is Good” – Gordon Gekko

With all the knowledge that we possess; the vast internet resources, scholarly research and years of experience; we still could not protect our organizations from the recession, our employees from being laid off, our diminishing dollars, and the resulting changes to our business plans and productivity.  It is such a challenge to reinvent our organizations while ensuring that our people resist the temptation to cut corners and instead adhere to values and ethics.

A lack of business ethics has made front-page news in the last decade. Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi authored The Knowledge-Creating Company in 1995 and have since studied how CEO’s can learn practical wisdom to help them do what’s right for their companies – and society. “Greed is good” has bled over into this century while managers should have been asking, “Where are we going”, “Who gains, who loses, and by which power structures?” and “Is this development desirable?”

We have long known that knowledge produces competitive advantages but does not always produce wise leadership.  Why not?

Much to my satisfaction, Nonaka and Takeuchi concluded that leaders must start doing what the non-profit sector has always done: “start thinking of themselves as social entities charged with a mission to create lasting benefits for society.  Unless companies create social as well as economic value, they will not survive in the long run.”  Who knew nonprofits were so ahead of the game???  I bet you did.  This series will continue looking at wise leadership and how to foster it in our own careers, as well as our organizations as a whole.



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