INTEGRITY

15/10/2011

Let me continue the thread about sustainable business started in the posts “GLOBALLY RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP” and “3 IN 1”. This time I offer you to look at integrity – the concept widely discussed in the corporate and non-corporate world nowadays. For instance, it was one of the core topics at the Daimler World Dialogue 2011 organized in October 2011 by the well-known manufacturer of the Mercedes-Benz cars Daimler AG.

So, what is integrity? And why does it receive so much attention? Here is my opinion.

Integrity is one of the essential components of globally responsible leadership. Being consistent in own vision, mission, expectations, goals, values, principles, methods, actions, etc. allows your organization to progress steadily in the desired direction and earns trust from the side of share- and stakeholders and other economic agents. This trust is the foundation of the long-term successful cooperation, which, as has been mentioned, is necessary to address all international and global issues.

Integrity is also related to the holistic, or systemic approach, when, for instance, international business is viewed not only as “sell – buy” relationships between the organization and its clients in different countries, but as a complex system of economic agents, processes, methods, principles, the environment, etc. and interrelations between them. Operating as part of such system requires the previously-mentioned consistency.

Another aspect of integrity in international business is represented in incorporating the socially accepted norms, values, morality, and other elements of ethics into the decision-making and operations of the organization. But, considering the international character of affaires here, the organization should be consistent with ethical principles and norms not of a single country or region, but of a global society. Truly, a huge challenge, but very awarding indeed!

And last, but not least, integrity means not only acting consistently with vision, values, methods, etc., but also providing trustworthy information in a timely and transparent manner. An organization incorporating integrity in its information delivery actions has a consistent and unambiguous image among clients, partners, competitors, policy-makers, and other agents.

 

Image is taken from here.

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3 IN 1

29/08/2011

I will start from rather far away. Each year I set an objective for myself to visit three countries I have not been to before. In this way I slowly, but steadily move towards the goal to see and experience all countries of our beautiful and amazing World.

In 2011 the International Baltic Summer School (IBSS) represented a wonderful opportunity to achieve the above-mentioned yearly objective, because it takes place in three Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. And I had not been there previously. In addition, there was some strange feeling that I should go for this opportunity, because I might learn something important. So, in spite of rather high costs, my decision-making on this topic resulted in the submitted application for IBSS and further taking part in this Summer School.

However, this article named “3 IN 1” is not about the interesting company visits to Skype and ICT Demo Center in Tallinn, swimming and sunbathing at the beaches in Parnu and Jurmala, adventures of being homeless in Riga, playing in the “fun room” of Swedbank high above Vilnius, admiring the treasures of the Trakai Castle, and in general enjoying the 3 countries in 1 Summer School.

No, the post is about what I have learned and experienced concerning business: Knowledge, Skills, and Ethics – the 3 components that an entrepreneur should possess in order to create and run a modern and successful international business.

1) Knowledge:

This is the most obvious and frequently used “compound” in the formula of entrepreneurship. No wonder there is a saying “Who possesses the information, rules the World”. During IBSS we were taught the peculiarities of doing business in the Baltics, entrepreneurial environment and developments there, as well as shown examples of successful companies on the Baltic market. This knowledge will surely be valuable in the process of establishing business in the region, but it will also surely be outdated by the time the decision on doing it is made. So, the task of an entrepreneur here is to ensure the constant receiving of the relevant and updated knowledge through multiple channels, both physical and virtual.

2) Skills:

Raw knowledge is not enough without the necessary “tools” to process and use it for the entrepreneur’s advantage. These “tools” are specific skills and abilities, both innate and developed through personal and professional experience. Skills to think “out of the box” and come up with the unique idea, skills to identify the business potential in this idea and to make it real, skills to establish and benefit from a large international network, skills to convince other people in your idea and business and thus obtain the customer base, skills to manage yourself and the pressure upon you, and many more. Some of them we have already had, some we have discovered and developed during IBSS, and some will come with experience further on.

3) Ethics:

This component is often omitted from the entrepreneurship formula. Some even say that there is no such thing as “business ethics”. I do not intend to argue with them, because my opinion is that common human ethics is enough to make person respected, business deals trustworthy, and business itself successful. If to wrap it up in a philosophical veil, as it is usually done, I would say that while knowledge is the key to the door of success and skills are the hands that are able to turn this key, ethics is that “inner voice”, which suggested you to choose exactly this door and to obtain exactly this key. But it is quite hard to learn to listen to this “voice”, and many people choose even not to try it. Why bother, when there are so many temptations around?! Nevertheless, the environment, including the business one, constantly tests every one of us on following the ethical way. At the Summer School I was somehow put into conditions that allowed me to check my ethical principles, values, goals, and dedication to them. I suppose I have passed this trial. At least it made me think about all this stuff.

All in all, my key learning point from the International Baltic Summer School (IBSS) was that in order to achieve victory on the “business battleground” an entrepreneur should have all 3 components – Knowledge, Skills, and Ethics – armed and ready. And not only HAVE them, but also USE them every day and in every step towards own business. The 3 components – the “key”, the “hands”, and the “voice” – for one door to success.


“STUPID” DECISIONS

11/10/2010

This is an abstract from “The Indigo Stories” by Alexander Iscenco.

I tend to make “stupid” decisions. These decisions are illogical, unwise, and, most importantly, unprofitable. They lead me to loosing wonderful opportunities that are almost “served” to me like a delicious dish.

Today (October 11th, 2010) has been marked by another decision-making of this kind. During my Master studies in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, I rent an apartment in a student dormitory. It is very expensive – I pay around 6000 Danish kroner (DKK) each month – but it provides good and quiet study conditions.

This afternoon I have paid a visit to a bank to transfer another monthly rent and get some money in cash for food. I asked a man at the service desk to do the transfer from my account to the one of the University of Copenhagen (the Housing Department to be more precise) and to withdraw one thousand DKK from my account. The man did everything and gave me the amount of money requested and two receipts for the two operations performed. I noticed something incorrect in the receipts, but decided to examine them carefully later.

When I returned to the University library, finished my study tasks, and looked through the receipts, I was very surprised to notice that 1000 DKK I had received were deducted NOT from my account. The bank officer must have used the first receipt (the one for the rent transfer) for performing the second operation (debiting the amount requested) and incidentally mixed up the account numbers there. So, it seemed I had ended up with an extra 1000 DKK in my pocket, which was equal to my monthly food budget.

The temptation had lasted for several minutes. I could have kept the money and for some period of time no one might found out the truth. Even if they did, it was all bank’s fault, and that fact was supported by documentary evidence. It looked like as this money had just been given to me.

However, I went back to the bank and showed the officer the mistake. After some minutes of understanding what had been wrong, the officer got the point and corrected the mistake immediately by crediting 1000 DKK back to the University account and debiting the same amount from my own.

I left them with a happy and proud smile on my face.

But what was there to be happy and proud about? I have lost quite large amount of money that was given to me for nothing. For that I have spent some of my time and efforts. In addition, there has not been any “whisper of conscience” or anything like that – just my own “stupid” decision.

And this has not been a single case. Take the last month situation, for example.

I was riding a bike along with other cyclists on the busy roads of central Copenhagen. Suddenly a mobile phone dropped out of the back pocket of one of the cyclists in front of me. The guy did not notice anything and continued his way along one of the canals.

I stopped and picked up the phone – it was a shiny modern and quite expensive model. It could have been mine…

But, no, I had to run after the guy across the street on a red light, shouting all the way in order to attract his attention. Finally, he noticed me and recognized his mobile phone. Upon receiving the missing item the guy said something in Danish, probably about the foolish idea of keeping a phone in a back pocket, thanked me, and rode away.

So, what did I get from this action? Some Danish sentence and a short “Tak!” (“Thank you!” in Danish) in exchange for a good-looking mobile phone. Therefore, what was the point of such behaviour, especially when considering that all other cyclists and pedestrians had shown total ignorance?

Truly, I tend to make such unreasonable decisions. From the economic point of view they are extremely senseless and stupid. They do not bring any profit; moreover such decision-making gets me to lose some time and look “different” in the eyes of other people. There is nothing to gain here.

Or is there?

 

Probably you expect some nicely looking learning point from these examples as a conclusion. Something like “Be stupid”, “Listen to your brain, but trust your heart”, “Follow the ethical way”, and so on. But I prefer to leave this part for you.

 

On the other hand, perhaps we do not need a conclusion. Maybe there is nothing to conclude here.

Certainly you do not want to be treated as “stupid” and “different”, do you? Especially if it does not bring any profit or other tangible benefit. So, why bother about it? Development and growth of the Human World are based upon rational, carefully thought decisions, both individual and common. There is no place for “stupidity”.

Is there?


THE FORMULA FOR AIESEC BALTI

01/09/2010

This video is a special message dedicated to AIESEC Balti and all people who contributed to its establishment, development, and growth (in Russian):

Below you can see the translation of the message in English:

Hey, AIESEC Balti! Hello, my dear friends!

Greetings from Copenhagen, the beautiful and interesting capital of Denmark.

On the 5th of September you celebrate 2 years of active development of AIESEC Balti. Still, the whole story reaches beyond this period, covering the appearance of the AIESEC Balti idea, various “experiments”, both successful and not so, etc. In the end, all this has resulted in what you see today – the registered and functional local committee in the city of Balti.

And in the basis of all changes and developments have been and are people with certain ideas, wishes, and goals. So, one of the toasts here should be for all actors of this entire play.

In addition, as a person interested in the ethical aspects of individual behaviour and organizational functioning, I am very glad to see the progress of AIESEC Balti in following the AIESEC Way and the Code of Ethics. Of course, there might be some points to be improved, but you and future generations will certainly obtain certain progress here.

So, enough long talks! It is time for wishes and presents!

Well, what can you expect from a young scientist like me? Of course, it is the FORMULA! Here is my gift, my wish to you:

Thus, I wish that AIESEC Balti develops according to our most ambitious vision, wishes, and goals, and these wishes and vision are aligned to the conventional ethical principles and all elements of the AIESEC Way.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AIESEC BALTI!