by Wilson Simmons
Here at the Foundation we have a lot of policies. And with good reason. These policies are part of a framework for protecting our most precious asset, the trust of our stakeholders. Crafting quality policy is hard. That is especially true in the current environment where transformation happens so fast. There is a natural give and take between a principle- versus a rules-based approach to policy construction. Accountants, like myself, are familiar with this dynamic. Our standard-setters have been oscillating between principle-based and rules-based approaches since their inception.
Recently nonmarket considerations like social justice, environmental preservation and income equality, things traditionally addressed by some nonprofits and other social service organizations, are front and center in many board rooms and shaping future policy on the corporate front. This reinforces the notion that all organizations, regardless of tax status, have a mandate to install polices and systems rooted in core values that place an emphasis on things like integrity. In other words, something closer to a principle-based approach. Ultimately, humans have to carry out policies. And therein lies the complex variable that no policy can get around, regardless of how it is constructed. We have differing moral constructs, ethical standards and have brains still hardwired with instincts from our hunting and gathering days.
I present the following for your consideration to illustrate just how complicated we are:
Regardless of whether you are a policy writer or follower, or just trying to understand what makes you tick, the topic of what makes us uniquely human is worth investigating. Understanding our innate strengths and weaknesses and how they impact our interactions and relationships are helpful in just about every facet of life.