Systems and scandals

Today I want to share one of the smartest interviews I’ve read about corporate culture. Amy Conway-Hatcher knows her stuff. You might want to read it before continuing.

Allow me to add my two cents to the question about the role of culture in enabling scandals. The interviewer suggests that scandals happen despite the systems and policies that most major institutions have in place. I argue that these scandals happens because of the systems and policies in place.

While the interviewer was most likely alluding to standard policies like non-retaliation,  harassment, and keeping accurate records, which are all good and necessary, we must also consider the less formal systems that grow in organizations. Take the Wells Fargo “system”, for example. Start with a CEO that shouts “Eight is Great!” all the time, tolerate the managers who then decide to micro-manage their sales people to make sure 8 new accounts are opened every day, allow HR to fire those who don’t meet the target, ignore that your have terminated over 5,000 employees for creating fake accounts in 5 years, and you get a scandal.

Surprising? Not a bit. And we could repeat the exercise with Volkswagen, Uber, Fox, etc.

A scandal is growing in your organization right now. Do you know what system to blame?


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