Thursday, December 21, 2006

Overseeing a culture of responsibility

It's the responsibility to top leadership to see both the intended and unintended consequences of the systems the organization sets up. Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban had a great post earlier this week on the fines the NBA commissioner handed out to the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks players involved in last week's brawl.

Cuban said, "I like that the commissioner fined the teams 500k, but I don't think it goes far enough. Not in terms of dollar amount, but in terms of assigning responsibility. I think the coaches, the President, GM and Owners should have been fined directly instead." He added, "The responsibility of the culture of a team and organization, of any business, starts with the owner and is implemented by the team's President, GM and Coach or whoever is in the position to manage the workforce."

Organizations our wholes. In the nonprofit world, when a direct care staff worker abuses a person receiving services, the staff person is rightly fired. But the board and CEO need to review the systems they have established that made the abuse possible.

The culture of an organization is supported by its systems. It's difficult leadership work to look honestly at the unintended consequences of the systems you have put in place to do good. But that's the responsibility of humble heirarchy leaders.