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Power, Responsibility & Wisdom: Exploring the issues at the core of Ethical Decision-Making and ... - page 3 / 13

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1. Organisational culture can be considered as either one that encourages the sharing of information, as opposed to a Knowledge is Power’ culture. (Although I consider it is more appropriate to use the word Information, rather than Knowledge, for reasons that are discussed in more detail later.) Almost all management techniques (Total Quality Management, Learning Organisations, and Knowledge Management, to name but three) are based on the assumption of a sharing knowledge culture and these techniques are unlikely to be effective within a ‘knowledge is power’ culture. Teams, and virtually all other management techniques, flourish best under a Responsibility-driven culture. In addition, as we move further into a knowledge economy, the effective sharing of information/knowledge will become even more critical for all our decision-making whether as individuals, within organisations, or for society as a whole.

2. It is often argued that people oppose change, when the underlying problem is, in fact, that there is a difference of opinion on how to define progress - or what we mean by ‘better’. In a culture where those affected by change are either in control, or they trust those driving the change, there is usually general agreement on how progress is defined, and there is little opposition to any change initiatives. The greater the trust levels, the easier it will be to undertake change, simply because there is general agreement that the change will be equated with progress. Despite all the talk of the need for change in many situations, what is really required is the need for greater emphasis on the concept of progress. Unfortunately, it is very rarely the case that all change can be equated with progress. This difference between change and progress is at the heart of most organisational difficulties in this area, partly because the vast majority of change is still top down driven, and this is, unfortunately, combined with the widespread existence of a Power-driven culture, which has fostered a breakdown in trust in far too many situations.

3. Another important dimension of the Power-Responsibility relationship arises in many organisations where they experience the damaging effects of bullying, corruption, as well as sexism and racism. These problem behaviours are, essentially, in the vast majority of cases, essentially little more than the ‘Abuse of Power. If individuals took a more Responsible-driven (ie; others focused) approach to their personal relationships, there would be an enormous reduction in these harmful anti- social behaviours.

4. The issues considered above are also reflected in the language we use to discuss them. Phrases, such as ‘Corridors of Power’, ‘Power Struggles’, even ‘Lusting after Power’, are widely used, but would not attitudes and behaviours be different if the language used was more focused on using phrases such as ‘Corridors of Responsibility’. Why do we never hear about ‘Responsibility Struggles’? There are very few, if any, examples of people being accused of ‘Lusting after Responsibility’. Why not? If Power and Responsibility are two sides of the same coin, shouldn’t the words Power and Responsibility be virtually interchangeable?

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