Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Goldman and Institutional Culture

The Browser showcases a pithy insight into institutional culture from a blog hitherto unknown to me:
You may violate certain portions of the Code of Ethics so long as your manager and team benefit and these violations are on the unspoken, unwritten “approved violation” list. Generally these will make lots of money for the firm and yourself.
That's from The Fourteenth Banker, watching the Goldman hearings. Good catch, and I mean no disrespect when I suggest that with a little bit of tweaking this describes any institution, not so? We all have our "rule book" and "how things are done," our langue and our parole. This doesn't need to be as cynical as it sounds; indeed it doesn't need to be cynical at all. Part of the point is that human conduct is too rich and various for any rulebook--witness how quickly the enterprise breaks down once the boys on the shop floor start "working to rule." And there is an important point here about leadership: maybe the folks on the bridge at Goldman said "wink wink," but there are others who will say "sorry. sonny, we just don't do it that way."

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