This issue of Ethix marks a minor landmark — the first issue in our 10th year of publication. Someone recently gave me a bound set of every issue of Ethix to date, and it has been fun to page through them all. There are some great ideas from the business, technology, and government leaders we have interviewed over the years. You can do almost the same thing by clicking on Ethix Archives at www.ethix.org. You won’t get all of the pictures, and won’t get the complete articles earlier than issue 28. But you will get a great deal of information there.
Other things you will find at the website include tools such as “Eight Traits of a Healthy Organizational Culture.” I was presenting these last year to a group of professionals, and a nurse said that the fifth one was not realistic. “A willingness to tolerate and learn from mistakes,” is not possible in a hospital setting, she said. Statements like this would invite lawsuits when a hospital admits it might make a mistake.
I have been thinking about this ever since that presentation. Everyone knows that hospitals, companies, and individuals are not perfect, and sometimes do make mistakes. How do we handle these well and still be realistic? That’s why I am so pleased to present the Conversation with Ken Melrose, recently retired chairman and CEO of Toro. They make lawnmowers and other equipment, and people are sometimes injured while using them. Toro has developed a powerful way of dealing with customers who have had an accident with their products. I think their approach would have application to almost any business or organization, and provides support to that fifth principle.
Also since the last issue I had the opportunity to return to the Central African Republic (CAR), co-leading a team of young business professionals with John Terrill of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We had devoted a special issue of Ethix at the end of last year to the findings of last year’s visit. We looked at the feasibility of micro-enterprise development in CAR, one of the poorest countries of the world. You will find an update on developments there on pp. 16 and 17. Also from CAR, the president of the one university in the country contributed an essay on the importance of ethics in a developing country. He is a truly thoughtful person who is providing great leadership against some difficult odds.
Why does CAR matter to someone in the West? Paul Collier wrote in The Bottom Billion, reviewed on pp. 14-15,
“It matters to us. The twenty-first-century world of material comfort, global travel, and economic interdependence will become increasingly vulnerable to these large islands of chaos. And it matters now. As the bottom billion diverges from an increasingly sophisticated world economy, integration will become harder, not easier,” p. 3.
Other standard features in this issue include Technology Watch (which deals with the joys, travails, and promises of air travel), News Notables, Letters, and the comments of our Ethics Advisor, Kenman Wong on a business-ethics issue related to pricing.
As always, comments on these issues, or the Forum Question (p. 3) are welcome.