Why do we become corrupt?

Some organisational designs are getting us into trouble.

Why can't we just do the 'right things' and avoid the corruption scandals that today affect so many businesses, governments and even sports regulators? 

Why can't communication, training and compliance initiatives build cultures of integrity, where people just come to add value -- rather than to take it away?

The truth is that most of us want to do the right things.  However, when living in cultures that distract, confuse and makes us afraid, most will consider taking shortcuts.





Do you know what people in your organisation are talking about today?

Do they spend too much time discussing the rules of internal recognition programs?  Are their quarterly results (and their bonuses) more important than the value they add to clients?  Are they afraid of loosing their jobs? Do they speculate about some change that is coming that they are not sure about yet?  Are they paying too much attention to the perks and well-being initiatives designed to 'engage' them?


by having your purpose be more about giving,
than about getting


Using the chart below: where would you say the culture of your organisation is today?  Is it more about 'getting' or is it about 'giving'?  Of course the latter is where cultures of integrity live, making sure all the basics are taken care of (getting pay, rewards, careers, etc) so that people can focus on giving:  the market, the competition, clients and even on client's clients - society.

As the culture moves towards the right (producing value, giving) , internal conversations will change from explaining (why things are too hard) into exploring (how we can worktogether to find ways to add value to our customers).

However, finding a good purpose does not mean that you have to save the planet.   It only needs to add value to someone's life (hint: and that someone is not just you and your shareholders).


You can sell mortgages with a sense of purpose, knowing you are helping people fulfill their dreams
Or you can build software with a sense of purpose, help advance the way people live and work


Giving makes people feel better. Most human beings find it deeply rewarding to do something meaningful in a manner that makes a real difference to others.  It is sustainable and makes you want to wake up in the morning.

Getting is a slippery slope. The more you get, the more you want, although getting more doesn’t necessarily make you feel better. 

WIIFM ('what's in it for me') cultures are things from the past.  Being obsessed with our own belly buttons will only get us intro trouble or, at best, will have us switch off as we plan our next career move.


(and here's the punchline)



It is NEVER too late for you to change the culture of your organisation.  You can design a culture where your profit is a direct measure of the value you bring to customers.  A culture where people are proud of their footprint AND satisfied with their careers, salaries and working environment.  A culture where people naturally want to do the right things, because it makes sense, not because of the sticks and the carrots.