Business Ethics and Governance
“Managing the creative tension and interdependence between individual autonomy and institutional authority is the essential challenge of establishing an ethical corporate culture”
Every organization in its activity aims to fulfill the most of its abilities and perform excellently within its own structures and among other organizations. With the increasing volatility and uncertainty of today’s business the significant organizational possession and most important asset has become the valuable talents of its employees who provide the organization with new ideas and constant innovations, meanwhile management in order to contribute to employee’s great execution look for “soft” technologies that will let to fully use employee capabilities and to align corporate goals with individual activity.
In order for individuals to execute their functions efficiently and move towards the progress and prosper it is needed to eliminate or cut possible tensions which may appear as a result of inconsistency with institutional authority. The principle of creative tension is the central principle of personal mastery and it does not imply emotional or anxiety tension but rather the awareness of the gap between the personal vision and current reality. To fully understand how to bring about creativity in an organization, more attention must be focused on the principles of creative tension which are the vision, current reality and the gap.
Vision helps to identify a clear view of what an individual wants, and how that overlaps with an organization’s vision is the first step. The vision does not imply providing for every contingency or elaboration detailed plan of actions; it should rather be clear view of activity that would let recognize the results of one or another action. Vision contributes to executives’ separation of what they want from what they think is possible. Executives need to ask themselves the question, “what do I want?” independent of questions of possibility or considerations of process (Fritz, 1989).
The next component of creative tension Current Reality implies clear understanding and representation of the reality of the current situation. This includes a disarmingly simple but profound strategy: telling the truth (Senge, 1990). This means a relentless willingness to root out the ways we limit or deceive ourselves from seeing what is and to continually challenge our theories of why things are the way they are (Senge, 1990).
Charlie Kiefer, the founder of Innovation Associates (as cited by Fritz, 1989) addresses this issue in detail: “Unfortunately, organizational life enables us to easily collude with both ourselves and others in not looking at the truth. We develop certain unspoken rules which everyone observes, and norms which make it virtually impossible to talk about the truth. In most business organizations, for example, political realities, personal comfort and bad habits are all senior to the truth. Organizations committed to the creative orientation reverse these priorities. Knowing how things really are is senior to politics, personal comfort and bad habits. In fact, truth is recognized as essential for the development for structural (creative) tension”.
The Gap – last component of creative tension – is the comparison of the vision that has been formulated and articulated, and the realistic perception of the current situation. Fritz (1989) suggests that the gap creates tension, and that creative people have some level of tolerance for that tension. If an individual has intolerance for discrepancy, he will tend to quickly resolve the tension in favor of continuing his present circumstances rather than working toward his vision.
If the creative tension is perceived as real, there is adequate intrinsic motivation to reduce the tension. There are two basic temptations that interfere with the experience of this model of creative tension: Individuals will be tempted either to lower their vision, or become falsely positive about their reality. Either prevents the experience of the creative tension that produces motivation for change.
Interdependence mentioned in the phrase that is being discussed is another important issue of organizational management. It refers to organizational independence in all aspects of its activity (financial, operational, and international) as well as independent activity and individual approach of its members who will hence have an opportunity to express their unique creative capabilities and talents.
When operating with terms of creative tensions and interdependence every organization relies on its intrinsic culture which is the combination of moral, social, and behavioral norms of an organization emphasis on the beliefs, attitudes, and priorities of its members. Through its corporate culture every organization describes its personality or simply as “how things are done around here.”
Corporate culture can be expressed in the company’s mission statement and other communications, in the architectural style or interior decor of offices, by what people wear to work, by how people address each other, and in the titles given to various employees. It guides how employees think, act, and feel. Corporate culture is a broad term used to define the unique personality or character of a particular company or organization, and includes such elements as core values and beliefs, corporate ethics, and rules of behavior.
To sum up the essay I would like to say that the excellence of organizational performance is greatly dependent from its creative tension, interdependence and individuals’ awareness of its intrinsic corporate ethical culture. The combination of these factors contribute to company’s success reflected in profound innovations, fulfillment of its members capabilities, ability to absorb acquisitions, achieve consistently excellent execution and minimize corruption.
- Goman, C.K. (1989). Creativity in business: A practical guide for creative thinking. Los Altos, CA: Crisp Publications, Inc
- Fritz, R. (1989). The path of least resistance: Learning to become the creative force in your own life. New York: Fawcett Columbine, Ballentine Books.
- Senge, P. M. (1990) The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.
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