Vision and Values in a Volatile World: Lecture One

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We live in volatile times, as the Arab Spring and August riots have demonstrated. Professor Costa outlines an ethics of business best suited to dealing with this situation, an approach based on a morality of visions and values.   This lecture was delivered by Professor Michael Mainelli, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce.

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27 September 2011

Vision and values in a time of volatility

Professor Kenneth Costa
(Delivered by Professor Michael Mainelli)

No-one could accuse 2011 of being a slow news year.

So far – and the year is only ¾ through so far – we have had:

Protests and regime change in Tunisia Protests and regime change in Egypt Protests, civil war and what looks like regime change in Libya Protests, civil war and what is not (yet) regime change in Syria Not to mention political demonstrations in Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, and Palestine

We have had the on-going massive Eurozone debt crisis, with

A bailout in Ireland (actually that was the end of 2010, but it was still very much a live political issue in 2011) a bailout in Portugal a second bailout in Greece, which appears to have been as inadequate as the first rumours of bailouts in Spain and Italy Massive – and massively unpopular – austerity measures being adopted in a number of European countries And the prospect of – to coin a phrase – the slow-motion economic collapse of the Euro, or possibly a rapid lurch towards fiscal union as the only way of saving the Euro.

What started off as a crisis of liquidity in banks across the world has turned into a no less severe crisis of national solvency.

Ironically – but perhaps that isn’t a strong enough word – the exposure of various European banks to Greece’s seemingly unpayable sovereign debt, as evidenced by the recent downgrading of the credit rating of French banks Credit Agricole Societe Generale from – the crisis of national solvency looks like it might ricochet back into a liquidity crisis again.

Beyond the Eurozone crisis, the US economy remains in a parlous state.

Standard and Poor took the unprecedented step of downgrading the US’s credit rating in August. It was a controversial move at the time but when employment figures later showed that the US economy had in effect created no jobs that month, the rating seemed less contentious.

As if a stagnant economy and jobs market were not enough, the painful wrangling between Democrats and Republics about a budget deal over the summer, raised the unthinkable spectre of US economy defaulting on its $14 trillion debt, and created further instability in global markets.

Indeed, so frustrated were other large economies over this game of economic chicken, that China’s state-run media even called US politicians “dangerously irresponsible” for their wrangling.

China itself, of course, has not suffered from the debt contagion plaguing the West and shows signs of continuing, even growing, domestic demand. But it is far from immune from what is a global debt crisis, is widely criticised for keeping its currency artificially low, and is frustrating not only by political wrangling in Washington but also by a fall of in Western consumer demand.

Overall, just as the Eurozone crisis mutated from being one of financial liquidity to national sovereignty, so the global debt crisis has shifted this year from being one of financial indebtedness to one of political authority.

Events in Greece, Europe and the US would not have been solved by some firm political resolve, but they would undoubtedly been helped by it!

Turning closer to home we have had:

the slow and painful unfolding of a media phone-hacking scandal that not only beggars moral belief – hacking into the phones of murdered children and grieving relatives but also has heralded the extraordinary spectacle of two of the most powerful media men in the world appearing before a Parliamentary Select Committee – one of whom is set to return to the stage; the much more rapid but no less painful explosion of rioting in numerous UK cities, motivated by little more than violence and greed

You might want to add to this potent mix

Rape charges made and then dropped against the head of the IMF Massive tsunami and fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan Massive famine in the horn of Africa A massacre in Norway The killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist

Oh, yes, and of course, a royal wedding

Newspapers have clearly been kept busy this year – when they weren’t listening to other people’s voice messages, that is. 2011 has been quite extraordinarily volatile.

And if there is one thing business and the markets hate it is volatility.

Uncertainty, rapid change, unpredictability: these are deeply problematic trends and conditions in which to conduct business…

That is one of the reasons why, in my news review of 2011, I left out one of the most important stories – largely because it is a story told on the back of all the other stories.

Uncertainty caused by the global volatility just mentioned has meant that global stock markets have been on a greater than usual roller-coaster, the general direction has been downwards. Global share prices remain almost a third lower than their peak prior to the crisis, and as a mark of the overall sense of uncertainty, last month Gold hit a record high of $1,900.

Although 2011 has not been as bad as 2008, which witnessed in the UK five of the ten worst days the FTSE-100 has ever had (or, 1987 for that matter, which saw four of the other five nightmare days), it has certainly still been a grim year

Every age can lay a claim to uncertainty. There are always, “events, dear boy, events”, as Prime Minister Harold MacMillan once said.

However, the last three years seem to have been something different. Of course, the last twenty years have seen some hugely traumatic moments – most of which had something to do with the threat of or supposed reaction to al Qaeda and extreme Islamist violence.

However, in a paradoxical way, that threat served only to cement our conviction in the rightness of our system. It was precisely our political and economic system and its freedoms that so enraged these extremists, so it was precisely those system and its freedoms that we would preserve.

What has happened over the last three years has been more fundamental in its implications.

The age of ‘irrational exuberance’, or ‘turbo-charged capitalism’ that has dominated the West, indeed the world, since the fall of Communism has turned on itself with such ferocity that many people feel that there is something profoundly different about our particular circumstances.

It is almost as if we are in some in between stage, where the other certainties and expectations are dying and we don’t know what to expect of the new ones.

To be quite clear, I am not predicting the end of capitalism here, or the reversal of globalisation. Rather I am saying that our time has some justification for claiming to be a time of particular volatility, and that volatility may well be more than a temporary, if slightly severe glitch, before we pass back to the status quo.

Rather, that volatility may be caused by a more profound and long lasting change of direction, perhaps even a change which recognises that our generation long experiment in which we have assumed that we can do politics and do business without recourse to fundamentally moral commitments, perhaps that experiment is coming to an end.

If it is, we can expect a time of on-going volatility. And even if it isn’t there are no signs of our volatile times calming down substantially. And if there is one thing that makes doing business particularly difficult it is volatility.

So, I want to ask the question: what – if anything – can guide us through this time? How can we hope to negotiate such volatility?

My argument is that any response – and particular any response in business – demands two key elements: vision and values. I want to unpack both of these in a little detail before bringing them together in the end.

What is vision and why does it matter?

Vision, like ‘hope’ and ‘community’, is one of those words those words that has much political currency. You can’t move for politicians – particularly around election time – talking about their vision for the nation.

It’s a word and idea with a history as long as humans themselves.

There is a biblical saying that even those unfamiliar with the Bible can often remember.

In its most famous translation – that of the King James Bible whose 400th anniversary we are celebrating this year – it runs as follows: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Pr 29.18) It can also, however, be translated: “Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint.”

Either way, this little proverb could be well adopted for the events of 2011.

In Egypt, Iraq and Libya, brutal and authoritarian leaders had no vision for their countries – or, rather, no vision that anyone beyond a small coterie of loyal followers supported – and accordingly their people perished. Thankfully, they managed to throw off their leaders, but the much more, of course, needs to be done – and if it is to be done successfully, the people themselves will need to develop and spread a just and generous vision for their country, precisely the kind of vision they had been starved off up until now.

In a rather different way, the phrase could certainly be adopted to describe those people who erupted into mindless, selfish violent in a dozen of so English cities in early August, smashing, stealing and scorching to the hearts’ content. These people had no vision of a properly socialised existence, no vision of what is right and wrong. And accordingly they were only too willing to cast off restraint when they had the opportunity.

It is interesting, also, here, that policing was at best, only a temporary substitution for true morality. One or two rioters –gave interviews to TV reporters in the immediate aftermath of the violence, rather unadvisedly one would have thought – and said  that they were doing what they were doing because the authorities, particularly the police, were not around, or unable to control them, or simply needed to be shown a lesson.

The idea that “Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint”, could be adopted to describe the age of ‘irrational exuberance’, or ‘casino capitalism’ (or ‘financial irresponsibility’, or ‘personal indebtedness’, or ‘me-me-me consumerism’ – you can choose your preferred term) – through which we have been living over the last decade or so.

In actual fact, as you may have spotted in these examples, what was lacking was not so much just a vision, as a properly grounded vision. The truth is not so much that “where there is no vision, people cast off restraint”, but rather without a vision that is grounded in values the people throw off restraint.

This is something I will return to, but first I want to unpack the idea of vision in a little more detail.

The whole idea of vision has two separate components to it.

The first is the more prosaic part.

Put simply, if you don’t know where you are going, you are highly unlikely to get there.

This is a maxim that holds well in every sphere of life. I doubt whether there is a husband and wife who have never quarrelled in the car because one or other (I won’t say who!) has forgotten the directions or the map or doesn’t have a good of where they are supposed to be heading.

On a more serious level, running a business is made all the more difficult if you have no strategy, no idea of where you want to be in 3 or 5 years hence and no idea of getting there.

Governments beg the electorate’s favour on the basis of their vision – otherwise known as their manifesto – for the country. It’s not simply a question of how inspiring that vision is – a factor to which I shall presently turn – but also how credible it is. The message - “This is where we are, this is what has gone wrong, this is where we want to go, and this is how we plan to get there.” – has to be believable.

In one respect, therefore, vision is simply having some idea of direction and destination.

But there is also a second component to the idea of ‘vision’. This is less prosaic and more inspirational sense. This is the sense that politicians like to use when they are making their set piece speeches.

This is vision as in ‘a guiding and inspiring sight’; vision in the almost mystical sense of the word. It is the idea not simply of your direction and destination, but of things as they could be; of transformation; of genuine and inspiring difference.

This is when you have a vision of what a country could really be like when it is otherwise wracked by poverty, insecurity and dictatorship – the kind of vision that has inspired many rebels in the Arab world this momentous year.

It is the vision of what a company can be like if all the staff not only understand but really get – are really motivated and inspired – by where the CEO is going, and accordingly work together to achieve it; a vision of superb service provision or superior products that not only are the envy of competitors but also make an obvious and positive contribution to wider society.

It is the vision of what your local neighbourhood could be if it were not plagued by gangs, and graffiti, and rubbish, and CCTV cameras, but rather by children, families, parks and trust.

You will notice that in each of these examples, vision is not a static thing. Indeed, almost by definition vision is about change, certainly about the capability of dealing with change. That is why it is so important in a time like ours, a time of volatility. Vision is the constancy, and the inspiration for being able to deal with ups and downs of unpredictable times.

Vision in both these senses is necessary. We need to know where we are going (and how we are going to get there – although that could fairly be called strategy rather than vision). And we need to want to get there – to be sufficiently attracted by the idea of where we are heading to sustain the patience and perseverance that are necessary to any serious venture.

It is without such a vision that the people – a society, a community, a business, a charity – will perish.

Vision then is necessary. But, as I have already indicated, it is not sufficient.

Put bluntly, it is no good the man or woman at the top having the most inspiring or credible vision for whether he or she wants to take their company if that vision is not communicated or shared or believed by everyone else in the company.

A classic business study which is nearly twenty years old now underlined the significance of vision – and crucially long-term vision. James Collins and Jerry Porras’ 1994 publication, Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies (New York: HarperBusiness) looked at those companies that had lasted, ‘visionary companies’, and compared them with other companies in similar industries, which, while strong, had performed neither as well nor as consistently. 

From 1926 through to 1990 the comparison companies outperformed the general stock market by two times, whereas the visionary companies outperformed the market by 15 times. The visionary companies turned out to be distinguished by an enduring set of core values, or ‘ideology’, preserved intact over many years and through many changes of leadership.

Accordingly, although I will return to vision later on, but I want now to turn to my second key element that is necessary if we wish to negotiate the volatility of the moment unscathed. That is values.

The post-match comment after the terrible riots that rocked English towns last month was as interesting and perhaps surprising as the riots themselves.

Because of the bare-faced, selfish, greedy violence of the riots – people walking away with plasma screen TVs, people trying on trainers before they looted, people torching shops and cars for no reason whatsoever – because of this it was difficult, even for the usual suspects, to blame the traditional culprits – government policy, cuts, poverty, and inequality.

Sure, there was an element of poverty in some of the behaviour of some of the rioters, and sure a society that is simultaneously as materialistic and as materially unequal as ours is one that is liable to breed discontent.

But the bottom line, which we all saw on our TVs, was that this was fundamentally a moral issue. This was an issue about what people in their everyday lives thought was right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable; what, in short, their values were.

For the first time in ages, it became possible for politicians to do morality in public, in front of the cameras, and not to be accused of being judgemental or draconian (which doesn’t mean, of course, that they were not accused of being hypocritical).

Values were back on the agenda, and with a vengeance.

For some people, of course, they had never been off the agenda. Some people had and always do find it easy to talk about value. But in public, in a morally plural society such as our own, it is simply easier for people not to do values and to concentrate instead on technical or economic or administrative or efficiency issues. Doing values was seen to be too risky.

Not any more it seems. Economic and political solutions are not enough to heal what ails us. We need values.

There are four points I would like to make about values and why they speak to – indeed, why they are necessary for our current situation.

The first is that they are not – or they should not be – susceptible to volatility in the same way as so much else is. Values are constants. They do not flip-flop according to circumstance or events. Indeed, quite to the contrary, values are there precisely to enable people to navigate through circumstance or events, no matter how volatile they are.

If you hold something to be valuable – honesty or integrity, for example – if they are your values, they do not stop being your values just because circumstances become tough. Honesty is not a value if it is exercised only when it is easy or cost-free to do so. People who are honest only when it suits do not have honesty as a value.

Of course, we all know that life is more complex than this and there are times when all of us struggle to maintain our values in difficult circumstances. But that is precisely what we would expect of values. If they really are values, they are liable to challenge – and shape – the way we live our lives. Values, by definition, are not volatile. Rather they help us stabilize the volatile circumstances in which we live, smoothing out the amplitude of precarious and unforeseen circumstances.

Secondly, and linked to the first point, values go deep. The very reason for the way in which they are able to resist every circumstantial wind that blows, to stand up against the volatility of the times, is that they go right to the heart of what it is about being human, being alive, we consider to be worthwhile. Like a sturdy tree that withstands the winds and the seasons, value have roots – deep, invisible roots right into the human soul, if I can put it that way – the nourish, sustain and protect us.

Jacob Bronowski, the great scientist, historian and presenter of the famous 1973 BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man, once said.

The values by which we are to survive are not rules for just and unjust conduct, but are those deeper illuminations in whose light justice and injustice, good and evil, means and ends are seen in fearful sharpness of outline. 

From a closer and more contemporary field, a massive NHS study into The Value of Values recently stated that:

Only values that are deeply embedded in an organisation’s culture and which are central to employee self-definition and identity what will make a difference to the way in which an employee behaves.

Values need to go deep, else they are simply fads.

Thirdly, and more contentiously, values involve serving the common or wider good. They are not simply about me. Greed is not a value. Selfishness is not a value. Looking after my own interests, particularly at the expense of others’, is not a value.

By contrast, when you think of the values that we appreciate or admire – generosity, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, integrity, etc – we can see that these are all oriented around the wider good, helping and serving other people, the community, society as a whole.

Fourthly, values must be widely – and genuinely – held. This is critically important and, it must be said, somewhat against the grain of the times, which is one of policy, regulation, and legislation.

If the culture – of a business, an organisation or an entire society – is to be changed, the people that belong to it need to buy into the values. Culture cannot be changed by fiat or edict. It can only be changed by changed personal commitments. And this is hard work.

There is an old saying among consultants to the effect that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”; it is very true. Unless people actually share those values – genuinely believe in and practice them – no amount of strategising will make a difference.

Indeed, worse than that – as the saying implies – if you try to change culture through edict, or simply apply strategy without taking any account of the culture into which it is to be implemented, you are in grave danger of throwing good money after bad.

Just as values need to be constant, deep rooted, and grounded in a genuine concern for the wider good, they also need to be shared.

So, this is what we can say about values. They are strong and secure against the volatility of circumstance; they go all the way down, being rooted deeply in our ideas about life; they are oriented around the good, defined and justified by a wider vision of serving others; and they are – or rather they need to be – held personally and shared among the relevant people.

There is an important caveat to get in here.

This is that the importance of values does not demand a one-size-fits-all approach. A successful, values-driven company does not have to boast a particular, specific, limited range of values.

Research shows that there is no single set of values shared by all visionary companies. Rather, “the crucial variable is not the content of the companies’ ideology, but how deeply it believes its ideology and how constantly it lives, breathes and expresses it in all it does.”

In one international study, although 89% of the companies had written value statements, it was only those that had worked hard to embed those values in behaviour that had realised the value of their values. The real strength of these leading companies lies in the way they link their values to corporate operations and the behaviour of their staff.

Values work at work
This all sounds fine in theory, but it is important to underline the point that it is more than just theory.

Research consistently shows that when it comes to organisational performance a serious commitment to serious values actually works.

In 1999, two consultants carrying out a year-long project to produce a business strategy for HM Customs & Excise asked a question: do organisational values actually matter to staff? The results of the survey were telling.

The more staff felt that the organisation’s values fitted their own, the higher their level of job satisfaction. Conversely, those with a low sense of fit were less satisfied. People “want[ed] to feel that the organisation they work for is in tune with their values.”[1]

This was not a one-off result. A growing body of research has demonstrated that, when we believe our own personal values match those of the organisation we work in, then we feel more satisfied with our jobs and workplaces; identify more strongly with the organisation; feel more personally successful, and more supported in that success by the organisation and think less about leaving. Predictably, the converse is also true.[2]

Having strong values also helps mitigate the dangers of risk. In an international survey covering 365 companies, 90% of senior executives argued that a strong corporate statement of values was critical in encouraging individual employees to take action and inform their managers when something seemed wrong.[3] It was this kind of environment that prevented errors from turning into disasters.

Values and ethics
Now, we have already recognised that there is no single set of values shared by all visionary companies. Not surprisingly, therefore, the precise definition of those values will vary.

However, it is worth noting how many of them are simply ‘moral’ in the sense of the word we all understand.

You may be familiar the old cartoon in which two well-heeled businessmen are sitting enjoying a drink. They are intense in conversation. One leans over to the other and says, “Get serious, John, we're talking business ethics not ethics.”

Well, witty as this is, there is good reason to believe it is wit, rather than reality.

‘Values’, in the sense that I have been using the word, doesn’t mean ‘ethics’. But there is good evidence to suggest that there can – and even should – be significant overlap between them.

One of the studies cited above compared ‘financial leaders’ (organisations that outperform their industry averages) with other public organisations. They found that financial leaders are much more likely than other public companies to include in their values statements:

Integrity and ethical behaviour (98% of financial leaders vs. 88% of other public companies) Commitment to employees (88% vs. 68%) Honesty and openness (85% vs. 47%) Drive to succeed (68% vs. 29%) Adaptability (42% vs. 9%)

While ‘drive to succeed’ and ‘adaptability’ might be the kind of value you would only expect to see so named in the business world, ‘integrity’, ‘ethical behaviour’, ‘commitment’, ‘honesty’ and ‘openness’ are values that have a universal appeal.

This is important to recognise as values in business could, in theory, be limited to the ‘drive to succeed’ category.

This would run counter to my argument above that values should involve serving the common or wider good – that they are ethical at root – and they are not simply about me and my interests.

If it were the case that the successful values-driven organisations were the ones that who boasted values such as hard work, drive, determination – then my argument would be weaker.

It is not, of course, that there is anything intrinsically wrong with any of these values. Indeed, I would argue that they are very important to a successful business.

However, it is my contention that values matter and make a difference, and that the ones that make the biggest different are those that also fall into the ethics category.

This is not simply wishful thinking, as there is mounting evidence for it.

The Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank that deals with the best practice in business ethics and corporate social responsibility researches into the success (or otherwise) of those businesses that take ethics seriously. (I understand that this can be difficult to define precisely but the Institute is open about its methodology, which is open for all to examine.)

Their list of World’s Most Ethical Companies go beyond making statements about doing business “ethically” and actually put their values into action.

The Institute has found that investing in ethics is beneficial for a company, even in a recession. In their comparison between World’s Most Ethical Companies and S&P 500[4] since 2007 they found that the Ethical Companies had significantly outperformed the normal ones. Those organisations that put their values into practice, even over this difficult time of volatility, did well out of it. [5]

Values help us navigate volatility. But ethical values, it appears, can help us do so even better.

Vision and values
My argument, then, is that it is by combining these two things – vision and values – that we can navigate our way through the volatility of the times.

It is by having a vision for change – a vision which is both realistic and inspiring – which is rooted in values – values that are constant, deeply-rooted, ethically-grounded, and widely shared – that we can hope to negotiate and smooth out a time of volatility.

What does this mean in practice and, in particular, what does this mean in practice for business and commerce.

Let me give you two examples by way of illustration and conclusion.

The first is of Ray Anderson, sustainable business pioneer, who recently died aged 77.[6]

Anderson was founder and chairman of Interface, and pioneered the goal of achieving zero negative environmental impact through a change in the business paradigm.

He was a truly visionary leader in his field, making sure his company stayed focused on zero footprint goals in such areas as waste, energy use and emissions in its business.

In his book Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, he describes how his own change in thinking came when he was being asked to provide his company with an environmental vision.

The best that he could come up with at the time was that they should “comply with all the many rules and regulations that government agencies seemed to love to send our way,” which was deeply unsatisfying.

It was only when he read another book (Paul Hawken’s, The Ecology of Commerce) that the penny dropped for him. Interestingly, he describes it in visionary, almost religious language:

“[It was] an epiphany, a rude awakening, an eye-opening experience, and the point of the story felt just like the point of a spear driven straight into my heart.”

It was values just as much as vision, however, that made the difference. Environmental issues were a matter of morality to him, not simply business sense. He referred to himself as a “recovering plunderer”, because he believed that any company that takes more from the planet than it gives back is involved in plunder. As he told a conference in 2009, “Theft is a crime. And the theft of our children's future [will] someday be considered a crime.”

This is ethical value – pure and simple. Understanding that business is a moral enterprise; understanding that only ethical values, not box ticking and regulation, can ever really deliver the goods, and having the ability to communicate this vision of values to others.

It was this combination of values and vision that enabled him to turn Interface into a market leader.

Let’s take a second example, from a very different field.

Traidcraft is a Christian based organisation committed to using trade and business to fight against poverty.

It has been in operation since 1979 and has grown since then to the extent that you are likely to find at least some of its products in most supermarkets across the country (although it persists in having problems in selling into some of the low end chains).

Traidcraft is motivated by a vision, and has been since its earliest days. It is – to put it gently – a big vision: “[Our] vision is a world freed from the scandal of poverty, where trade is just and people and communities can flourish.”

That vision could easily sound pie-in-the-sky, but Traidcraft’s success shows that it need not be.

And the reason for this is that its vision is grounded in values.

Traidcraft is up front about how it expresses its “Christian principles” in its policies and activities, especially “the principles of love, justice and service.”

It promotes responsible stewardship of the created environment, the fair and equal treatment of women and men, and relationships between the rich and the poor which are marked by mutuality and respect.

The organisation seeks “fairness” for the producers, customers, shareholders, and employees with whom it works, and is open and honest in its reporting back to stakeholders.

Although Traidcraft appears wary of using the word ‘values’, which doesn’t appear so often in its literature, it is clearly a value rich organisation: fairness, equality, mutuality, respect, openness, honesty, service, justice and love: these are all undeniably values and ones that most people admire.

That said, and to repeat what I said above: not all organisations that value values should value those particular values! Indeed, some will feel that some of them – such as service and love – are either too explicitly religious or otherwise inappropriate for business values.

That is fine.

The point about values is that not every organisation or business has to share the same ones, any more than every organisation or business has to share the same vision.

The point is that if you are guided by a vision, that vision needs to be grounded in values: values that are constant, deeply-rooted and widely-held.

This isn’t, it should be stressed, a question of religion. Traidcraft might be religious, but Anderson was not.

Rather, it is a question of having a vision of what can be, a vision that can enable you to negotiate times of change and volatility, and one that is grounded in genuine and seriously-held values.  

There is, of course, no guarantee that things will work out.

The world is a big and a complex and, as we have seen, hugely volatile, place and it may not matter how visionary or values-driven an organisation is.

If political regimes are volatile – given, literally, to explode! – …

…or if the macro-economic context in which a business operates is effectively held hostage to the enormous sovereign debt and inability to restructure certain economies…

…or if the wider social context of society is deeply unstable – with thousands of people seemingly willing to go on the rampage and to steal with impunity at the drop of not so much as a hat…

…let alone if nature shows her violent, unpredictable side – as people on the East Coast of Japan have long been aware of…

…if any of these things kick off, let alone all of them kick off together, as they have in 2011, there is not much a business can do about it.

But a serious commitment to vision and ethical values is the best means we have to guard against and navigate through a time of volatility.

©Professor Kenneth Costa, Gresham College 2011


[1]Hyde, P., & Williamson, B. (2000). The importance of organisational values. Focus on Change Management. 66, 14-18

[2]For more information see NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, The Value of Values – Resource Books (2009):

[3]van Lee, R. Fabish, L., and Gaw, N. (2006). The value of corporate values: Strategy and Business Issues. Booz Allen Hamilton/Aspen Institute

[4]The S&P 500 is a free-float capitalization-weighted index published since 1957 of the prices of 500 large-cap common stocks actively traded in the United States.


[6]Details here:

This event was on Tue, 27 Sep 2011

Professor Kenneth Costa

Professor Kenneth Costa

Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Business

Professor Ken Costa is the former Chairman of Lazard International and is the Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce.

Ken Costa studied philosophy and law at...

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alderman professor michael mainelli

Lord Mayor Professor Michael Mainelli

Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Business

Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli MStJ PhD MPhil BA FCCA FCSI(Hon) FBCS CITP FIC CMC MEI is Honorary Life Fellow of Gresham College and Emeritus Mercers'...

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