Umang Kumar responds to Italian Philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical protests against the restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19, and finds Agamben’s distinctions between “bare life” and the “good life worth living” deeply problematic. Focussing on this distinction is a luxury a Western philosopher might have, but for many the bare life and the good life are intertwined.
via Madras Courier, 28 May 2020
Discussions of ethics tend to focus on matters of conscious choice: which moral rules to follow, or advice on how to approach moral dilemmas. But a hugely significant part of ethics concerns what is unthinkable. You might, for example, be strapped for cash, but robbing the neighbours is unlikely to be an option for you. That’s because, whenever you deliberate, you have already ruled out all kinds of unthinkable possibilities. Some because you can’t contemplate them, some because you’re genuinely not aware of them.
Which brings virtues that by their nature restrict thought and imagination into tension with the prevailing spirit of the internet which operates on the principle that everything should be viewable and thinkable.
via Aeon Media, 17 May 2019
Innovation begins with the courage and willingness to think differently. That begins at the board and C-suite levels. When leadership is thinking differently, they will challenge others in the company to do the same.
via Entrepreneur, 24 October 2019
No company will ever be perfect, because no human being is perfect. Organisations should aim to design a system that makes being good as easy as possible. Nicholas Epley and Amit Kumar say that means attending carefully to the contexts people are actually in, making ethical principles foundational in strategies and policies, keeping ethics top of mind, rewarding ethical behaviour through a variety of incentives, and encouraging ethical norms in day-to-day practices. Doing so will never turn an organisation full of humans into a host of angels, but it can help them be as ethical as they are capable of being.
HBR, May/June 2019
Australians had become used to walking past rough sleepers. Policymakers too, seemed unmoved by the people huddled in doorways or sheltering in parks under plastic sheets. That’s until the COVID-19 pandemic rendered rough sleepers visible, because we’ve all been told to stay home and anyone without a home presents a risk of passing on the virus. Hal Pawson and Cranlana Lead Moderator Peter Mares explore the five major vulnerabilities this crisis has laid bare.
The Conversation, 12 May 2020
We must be on the right side of history says Travers McLeod, chief executive of the Centre for Policy Development and a Cranlana moderator. Institutions need to be reformed to tackle 21st century challenges. In this article he outlines 10 steps to do that and build a stronger nation.
The Guardian, 4 May 2020
When the situation is uncertain, human instinct and basic management training can cause leaders — out of fear of taking the wrong steps and unnecessarily making people anxious — to delay action and to downplay the threat until the situation becomes clearer. But behaving in this manner means failing the coronavirus leadership test.
Harvard Business Review, 12 April 2020
Alumnus Paul O’Farrell reflects on the longer term influence of the Executive Colloquium, and the epiphany he had during it.
Alumni who have participated in programs at Cranlana, the Myer family home in Melbourne, understand that the gardens form a peaceful backdrop to the hard work and challenging conversations happening inside the ballroom. Taking participants out of their familiar environments is an important part of the format, providing surrounds which allow full immersion in the business of interrogating practices and approaches.
Enjoy this rare glimpse of this historic Victorian garden.
via ABC 1 April 2020
“The reality is that, for many leaders, there is no true straight-and-narrow path to follow. You beat the path as you go. Therefore, ethical leadership relies a lot on your personal judgment. Because of this, the moral or ethical dilemmas you experience may feel solitary or taboo — struggles you don’t want to let your peers know about. It can sometimes feel shameful to admit that you feel torn or unsure about how to proceed. But you have to recognize that this is part of work life and should be addressed in a direct and open way.
Even though most companies have some cultural and structural checks and balances, including values statements, CSR guidelines, and even whistleblower functions, leaders must also be mindful of the psychological conditions that push people — including themselves — to cross ethical lines. Understanding the dangers of omnipotence, cultural numbness, and justified neglect are like installing the first few warning signs on the long road of your career. You will inevitably hit some bumps, but the more prepared you are to handle them, the likelier you are to keep your integrity intact.” Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg
via Harvard Business Review, 12 April 2019
Ro Allen, Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality and part of Cranlana’s alumni, says “Cranlana called us into that space where you understand that making the right decision calls for bravery.”
Equipping senior leaders with the courage to make ethical decisions in challenging circumstances is what Cranlana Centre’s programs do, so that they can help build a better society.
Ethical fading is a legitimate business risk. It occurs when the ethical aspects disappear from the decision-making process and happens when people focus heavily on some other aspect of a decision, such as profit. CEOs and executive teams may focus on compliance, but other competing priorities within the company might influence the final decision. That can lead to court, and penalties. Fines can convert ethical issues into business problems by attaching a price tag to them.
This piece draws lessons from the case of Carnival Corp. and its subsidiary Princess Cruise Lines, which were initially fined $40 million for dumping waste, and then another $20 million for violating their probation terms, by the US Department of Justice.
Via Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University, 24 June 2019
Alumnus Darren Bickham had quite a strong reaction to the Executive Colloquium pre-reading. It’s not for the faint-hearted but, as Darren discovered, it leads you during the program to ‘I get it’ moments which help you understand your place in the world.
“Everyone who leads people should do it. It was an incredible experience.”
There has been, and will continue to be, much written during this coronavirus outbreak about the application of ethics to the decision-making processes in hospitals, the halls of power and the institutions which have traditionally shaped our lives – public and private. Our CEO Vanessa Pigrum and Lead Moderator Peter Mares have both written on these topics.
We’ve already shared some articles and pod-casts on these topics – you can find them on our site in the news and alumni curated content pages, and our social channels. As the impact of the outbreak shows no sign of lessening in the immediate future, and the volume of content on current and future virus-related issues grows, we will be gathering some of the more thought-provoking pieces here as they are published. Please revisit periodically to read or listen to newly added thought pieces.
Alumnus Jerome Reid, Australian Department of Defence – Joint Capabilities Group – talks about the power of ethical thinking and how the Cranlana program “completely deconstructed the entire fabric” of his thinking. “I realised I needed to rethink my decision-making, shed my biases and rethink my world view.”
“An ethical leader is at pains to question how they live with the contradictions and tensions of leading in a modern organisation and how to do that in an ethically rigorous way. It’s about building a better society.”
Qantas Magazine, April 2020
A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.
Politico, 19 March 2020
2020 has provided a range of unwelcome challenges to every sector. Worryingly, some leaders haven’t responded as well as they could have, or in ways which have engendered public trust and confidence.
Following up the latest Edelman Trust Barometer a supplementary study, conducted in early February, “demonstrated that the national bushfire crisis sparked a dramatic decline in trust from an all-time high of 68 points in the informed public to 59 points, a 9-point drop in just three months.
“Australia’s informed public saw a severe breakdown of trust from the government in response to the bush fire catastrophes. This should have been an opportunity to unite the nation and build security, but instead, the lack of empathy, authenticity and communications crushed trust across the country,” said Michelle Hutton, Edelman CEO.
How confident are you in your abilities to respond to a crisis?
via FIA, March 2020
Companies that want more satisfied employees and stronger performance need to invest in understanding what motivates people in their work lives and pay attention to the emotional side of organisational culture. But the importance of emotional culture is not just definitional. The type of emotional culture an organisation or a department has predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.
Leaders need to know how to nurture a culture which delivers benefits for the organisation and employees, particularly as the workforce starts to expect more from their employers in terms of values alignment.
via MIT Sloan Management Review, 6 November 2019
Ethics involve hard choices. Hugo Slim, Co-founder of the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights, says in emergencies humans tend to become more ethical than usual, both as individuals and as collectives. We may panic buy and feel scared, but deep down we also know it is a time for exceptionally ethical conduct and for virtues that we do not always show, like kindness, humanity, courage, selflessness, and a commitment to the common good.
He identifies four areas of focus as we create new emergency ethics for the world, including good leadership which is “an essential factor in emergency ethics. Doing the right thing at the right time is not easy… Leadership is difficult, stressful, and lonely, which means leaders should have our support and understanding when they are acting with integrity in crisis.”
via The New Humanitarian, 18 March 2020
No matter your age, your role, your position, your title, your profession, or your status, Peter Bregman argues that to get your most important work done, you have to have hard conversations, create accountability, and inspire action.
He identifies four essential elements that all great leaders rely on to rally people to accomplish what’s important to them.
Harvard Business Review, 13 July 2018