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Profits should be a result of excellence--not the main goal

I recently received an email from Bill Budinger, the founder of Rodel Inc. Bill expressed a core idea of about great leadership: that if you put people and mission before profits, then the profits will flow. Bill went on to explain how putting profits first makes it very difficult to run an ethical company. Bill's formulation was so clear, and backed up with such authority of experience, that I asked him for permission to post his email. The key section is in bold, below.

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Dear Professor Haidt:

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The Operating System (OS) of Ethical Business

Bryan Johnson recently made a $100 million gift to launch the OS Fund. The OS Fund invests in bold, high-return ideas that “promise to reinvent the operating systems of life.”

Why is this relevant to ethical systems design? Because we’re trying to rewrite the OS of business to make it the primary driver of flourishing societies and there’s a lot to learn from their approach. There’s a quantum leap within reach by applying behavioral ethics, behavioral economics, psychology and systems thinking to business. 

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Ethical Systems is hiring

We're hiring an intern and a communications consultant.  Details below.  Is it you or someone you know? 

Communications Consultant

Do you believe that business can be a much greater force for good in the world?  Do you want to help us make it so? We’re a non-profit collaboration of researchers at America’s top business schools who are drawing on the best social science research to help companies improve their ethical culture and behavior.

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Collaborators in the news for October

COLLABORATORS IN THE NEWS

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Featured Collaborator of the Month: Nicholas Epley

Featured Collaborator of the Month:

Professor Nicholas Epley, author of Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want is the featured collaborator of the month for November. 

This section includes:

  • An interview with Professor Epley about his work and ethical systems design
  • A video of a talk he’s given
  • One of his academic articles
  • A popular article published in Salon
  • A summary of his recent book Mindwise
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Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want

Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want

by Nicholas Epley

Knopf, Borzoi Books (2014)

Summarized by Bryan Turner

 

Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want is a book about our “sixth sense”, or mindreading, but there’s nothing supernatural about it. Epley is an experimental social psychologist, and this is a book about his research into how we understand the intentions, motives, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and wants of ourselves and others, our mistakes in doing so, and what we can do to correct for these predictable errors.

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Why all of us could face UNC’s problem

[This article was originally posted on Max Bazerman's Linkedin page] 

The recent revelations that at least 3,100 students at the University of North Carolina, many of them athletes, took fake “paper classes” over the course of 18 years stands out as the greatest documented case of fraud in college athletics. Unfortunately, however, this type of unethical behavior is common across organizations and industries—and it shares common roots.

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A powerful ethical intervention is just one pet story away

The natural conditions of the business world are breeding grounds for what psychologists call moral disengagement.  The psychology of moral disengagement allows us to do bad stuff and still feel okay about ourselves.  We morally disengage when we behave as a collective rather than as individuals, view others as numbers more than people, and distance ourselves from the impact of our decisions.  In other words, if we work in an organization and do not have personal contact with customers, we are likely to morally disengage.  This is dangerous, because a tight link between moral disengagement and unethical behavior has been found time and again by psychologists.  How can we break this link?

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Effective C&E Programs: The Justice Department Speaks

[This essay was originally posted on the Conflict of Interest Blog]

Last week, together with David Wilkins of SNC-Lavalin, I chaired the Practising Law Institute’s Advanced Compliance & Ethics Workshop.  Marshall Miller, the number 2 in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, gave the keynote address, which was subsequently posted on the Department’s web site.  Among the important points he made were the following.

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#EthSys Insights 7: Michael Posner

#EthSys Insights is a video series where we have experts answer questions about ethical systems design.

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