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The More Things Change...

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I attend conference and meeting industry events whenever possible, read the industry press, blogs and on-line group postings. Taking pause recently while in the peace and quiet of a mountain retreat, I was struck by the common thread woven through all that I read and hear. 

There is the continuing heavy emphasis on technology to enable all of us to accomplish more with less. Apps, apps and more apps. Good stuff.  And those of us who are “senior” (in years of involvement) have either embraced it or taken a back seat. But who can argue with being able to do more with less and have better outcomes?"

Also, to name just a few, there is the emergence of important areas of emphasis along the continuum of professional meeting and trade show management such as Green Meetings, Corporate Social Responsibility and Strategic Meeting Management. (Hmm, I always thought all of my client’s meetings had to be planned strategically with defined outcomes).

And yet - how does the saying go? - "The more things change . . . " - there is still heated discussion about attrition, labor costs and commissions and, sadly but, I guess realistically, about ethics! These contract issues are often complex, but they can be worked-out by reasonable people.
But, to me, the issue of ethics, corporate or individual, is not complex at all. To me, it's so simple. (Actually, I'm still too naïve to understand how a corporation can have ethics rather than be a reflection of the ethics of the managers who drive the company.)  

I agree with those who say that recipes or formulas or even codes for ethical conduct don't work without one basic ingredient - the simple, self-administered test of a contemplated action: "Would you be comfortable reading about it on the front page of the NY Times (or, more realistically, any industry publication)? The older I get, the more I rely on my tummy for signals about a contemplated action.  

Simple questions. Simple answers. Is this really the right thing to do? Would I want someone else to treat me this way? Would I be comfortable with my peers publicly discussing my action(s)? How we deal with these issues shape who we are, what we are and, hopefully, enable us to look inward without a tinge of uneasiness.

Of course, a shortcoming of my simplistic approach is that the person has to have enough sensitivity and concern to think that an action might possibly be in the gray area, otherwise they won’t ask themselves the question. It only works for those who already have a reasonable sense of right vs. wrong.  

I think it would be healthy for the industry to have an on-going dialog or platform where we can pose real ethics questions and their peers provide feedback.

©  2014 by Rod Abraham