Since any opinion can be published on the Internet, we have to face a confusing flood of views. In this jungle of standpoints, we have to develop our own identity. It is like deciding on your clothing style. Whereas in the past general fashion waves offered only a few alternatives, nowadays many styles make their waves. Self-consciousness is formed that cannot simply be assigned to the established groups – e.g. left-right, progressive or reactionary, (un)dogmatic, (un)human.
Joining a school of thought takes place in widely varying contexts. Each time it results in the adoption of another thinking – again and again. Role conflicts are thus inevitable. The way out is the convinced decision for a coherent attitude. The following steps offer a course in this direction.
- You have to deal with the content
A look at the current fashion trend is no longer possible due to the flood of offers. Even if the long-established fashion corporations stick to the annual shows, buyers are increasingly following new labels outside the mainstream. Influencers sift additionally through the offerings and make their subjective comments for others. The catwalk of business identities also follows this pattern. On the one hand, symposia and trade shows offer news regarding Business Models, IT, or Business Engineering. However, it is necessary to increasingly consider new topics, such as New Work, Diversity, Industry 4.0, and still, Globalization, to evaluate the hard factors of rigid structural and procedural organizations and the concreted system landscape from a different perspective.
- You need your value system
In addition to one’s physique, the self-image and internal value system play a role in the choice of clothing. These beliefs have a mainly subconscious effect on the choice of look. Countless media provide ideas for any trend. This also applies to everyday professional life. Filter bubbles have emerged for every task, repackaging the same solutions over and over again. Consulting firms provide a coherent rationale for particular topics that are eventually adopted by the fields. Formulating one’s value system helps in choosing a solution.
- You decide in any case
At the end of the day, it is the available wardrobe that defines what fashion you wear. You have two more or less conscious decision points: 1) the arrangement of the closet and 2) the spontaneous choice of the moment. The situation is similar for business opportunities. The groups that are prepared have an advantage, as only the options can be used that are available – the more diverse, the better prepared you are for the particular choice. Actively or passively – in any case, you decide.
- You need to let go what you love
Every closet is limited. Thus, from time to time, you need to clean out to make room for something new. It is tough to part with the old clothes you cherish, even though they are often not in the best condition. The same is valid with building blocks of business. Over the years, a company builds up technical and organizational legacies that burden the workforce and the budget more than they help. Unfortunately, when new solutions are introduced, the responsible people forget to dismantle the old ones. This leads to organizational clogging that significantly reduces performance.
- You must live your decision
Whatever you decide, wear your outfit with the respective confidence. You have learned about the alternatives, developed your criteria for selection, made a conscious decision – as good as it gets. In business, there are processes that make this examination of yourself possible: strategy, planning of all kinds, and formalized decision-making processes. Once decisions are taken, you should always be backed up by appropriate mentioning and appreciation so that everyone involved understands what is valid.
Bottom line: Identity is an essential element for workforce cohesion. Therefore, a framework that promotes a sense of belonging should be proactively created. To be able to decide, you consider the options based on your criteria and decide. To achieve the desired effect, you must let go of the cherished habits and foster the new approaches confidently and openly. Since the clothing style concerns similar aspects, it is the ideal metaphor for identity.
In the first decades of the Internet the form of public sphere and sharing, above all, has changed. Politics, economy and our leisure time look completely different today. Although enterprises exploit in all areas the opportunities of the Information Technology, solutions for an internal culture of self-criticism are not yet sufficiently in place. Traditional hierarchies are just as provocative as centralistic nations. The official routine is not sufficient, in order to guarantee compliance. Information follows its own rules and finds its way into the public. Companies cannot afford any longer to practice business at the edge or even behind legality. To understand the price of a leakage, we have to wait until we will see the costs of the current crisis at Volkswagen. In any case it will cost billions Euros. Instead of pushing the Whistleblower into the arms of the broad public sphere, it would be better to open internal channels that permit the staff to fulfill their need and to whistle internally.
The board and the executives must understand that the early uncovering of illegal activities ensures the viability of the enterprise. It is not a matter of betrayal, disloyalty or unfaithfulness to reveal or publish scandals by so-called whistleblowers, but a mechanism of the self-preservation. Nobody stands above or outside of the law. Unfortunately bosses perceive it differently. Whistleblowers are considered as traitors. The efforts of the enterprise are limited to the effectively published implementation of an internal revision. Their task is to discover flaws and to suggest improvement measures. Why not establishing an internal whistleblower system that allows all employees to communicate their observations anonymously, without being afraid of personal consequences? For this purpose it can be helpful to consider the following aspects.
- Holistic focus
There should be an internal understanding of the enterprise as a whole that stigmatizes departmental egoisms and personal agendas that create disadvantages for the enterprise.
- Principle of subsidiarity
Well delimited authorities distribute responsibilities across organizations. In the end the board is no longer automatically liable for failure on a lower level, but the actual responsible people. This is particularly valid for the report of serious offenses.
- Publish company values
Laws apply for all employees and executives the same way as for every other citizen. The internal publication of the obligation to comply with laws within the corporate values is important in order to eliminate the impression of the employees that they are in a lawless area.
- Error culture
Information that is received through an internal registration office should not be automatically basis for sanctions, but the starting point for eliminating drawbacks.
Illegal behavior should be treated internally in such a way as in the rest of the society. Not each case results in a legal case. Arbitration bodies allow learning from errors and facilitate an adjustment, without the need to unreasonably sanction the failure. In some cases it is inevitable to report certain people to official instances, since you make yourself guilty due to connivance.
- Sense of injustice
A new task for legal or the newly created compliance departments will be the education of the right understanding of the employees. Only with this sense of injustice, together with the internal procedure for whistleblowers, the enterprise can hope for better compliance of the employees.
- Internal whistling
Difficulties happen frequently at the individual workplaces. Employees can trigger corrections of erroneous trends for the advantage of the enterprise and thus for the own well-being. In some cases the difficulties become only visible from a holistic perspective. Then also executives have to participate.
The conception that large organizations are lawless areas is over, at the latest since the introduction of compliance departments. Whether an enterprise gets a sense of justice by employing former FBI officials may be a matter of calming of relations with US-authorities. However, compliance begins in the mind of each employee. In order to prevent inner conflicts of the employees, it is surely smarter to let them whistle internally.
Bottom line: Nobody stands above the law. And laws that must be obeyed can be found in all areas of the enterprise. An internal system for reporting illegal practices is better than pushing the employees into the public. The damage is then much larger. For this reason enterprises should let their staff whistle internally.