Open Yourself Up A Big ‘Ol Box Of Ethics & Compliance


By: Drew McManus

“You need volunteers to update and revise the organization’s ethics and compliance policies? Hellz yeah I’m in!”

Granted, that’s probably not a phrase you’re going to hear during your tenure as a professional arts manager but that doesn’t mean arts organizations should take ignore ethics and compliance issues nor does it mean the task of creating meaningful, and applicable, policies and procedures should be something to avoid.

To that end, you should take a look at the Ethics & Compliance Toolkit from the folks at the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI).

Ethics and Compliance toolkit

It’s a refreshingly detailed resource that not only begins with “what is this stuff and why should I care?” but ECI walks you through each relevant step in the process toward creating meaningful output. There’s even a historical timeline chronicling the evolution of ethics from the Don Draper two-martini-lunch-and-misogyny fueled 1960s through our current decade of super-size corporate cynicism with a side of economic meltdown.

The toolkit is divided into nine sections:

  1. Ethics and Compliance Glossary
  2. Definitions of Values
  3. Why Have a Code of Conduct?
  4. Code Construction and Content
  5. Common Code Provisions
  6. Ten Style Tips for Writing an Effective Code of Conduct
  7. The PLUS Ethical Decision Making Model
  8. Five Keys to Reducing Ethics and Compliance Risk
  9. Business Ethics & Compliance Timeline

If you’re still not sold, head over to the The PLUS Ethical Decision Making Model section and take a look at Step #1 (emphasis added because I know you may be like me and inclined to simply skim over and miss this otherwise hidden gem):

[box]Step 1: Define the problem

The most significant step in any decision-making process is to determine why a decision is called for and identify the desired outcome(s). How you define a problem shapes your understanding of its causes and where you will search for solutions.

First, explore the difference between what you expect and/or desire and the current reality. By defining the problem in terms of outcomes, you can clearly state the problem.

Consider this example: Tenants at an older office building are complaining that their employees are getting angry and frustrated because there is always a long delay getting an elevator to the lobby at rush hour. Many possible solutions exist, and all are predicated on a particular understanding the problem.

  • Flexible hours – so all the tenants’ employees are not at the elevators at the same time.
  • Faster elevators – so each elevator can carry more people in a given time period.
  • Bigger elevators – so each elevator can carry more people per trip.
  • Elevator banks – so each elevator only stops on certain floors, increasing efficiency.
  • Better elevator controls – so each elevator is used more efficiently.
  • More elevators – so that overall carrying capacity can be increased.
  • Improved elevator maintenance – so each elevator is more efficient.
  • Encourage employees to use the stairs – so fewer people use the elevators.

The real-life decision makers defined the problem as “people complaining about having to wait.” Their solution was to make the wait less frustrating by piping music into the elevator lobbies. The complaints stopped. There is no way that the eventual solution could have been reached if, for example, the problem had been defined as “too few elevators.”

How you define the problem determines where you go to look for alternatives/solutions–so define the problem carefully. [/box]

See, it isn’t all rules and guidelines, but practical insight!

And really, how often has your organization lost precious hours and wasted resources coming up with solutions to the wrong problem?

So head over to the ECI’s Ethics & Compliance Toolkit (and feel free to forward it to one or more board members).

Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
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