Now that you have reflected on your progress in this course, begin your work onProjecet 3 by reading the scenario below. Then proceed to Step 1.
The day after you hand in your situation audit, you notice the following headline in the business section of the newspaper: Employees Accused of Stealing from Company. Apparently, a group of employees who worked for a company similar to yours was routinely lying on their expense reports, claiming—and getting reimbursed for—personal expenditures, including Caribbean trips and four-star restaurants.
You nearly spit out your coffee when you read this. You work in the same sector! After completing your situation audit, you feel like you have a good grasp on the mission and values of your company, and you’d be very surprised if such behavior were tolerated. However, this article still makes you wonder about your industry as whole.
Once you get to your office, you discover that you aren’t the only one interested in this story; everyone is buzzing about it. You soon receive a message from the COO’s assistant stating that the COO, Kate Lindsay, wants to see you this afternoon. Why does Kate want to see you?
As you sit down in Kate’s office, Kate lives up to her reputation for being focused and direct and immediately launches into what she has to say. “You must have heard about the expense report scandalat our competitor’s organization. We need to ensure that the same thing is not happening here.” She continues, “I came to this organization because I considered it to be among the best—are we?” She begins reciting a list of questions: “How can we be sure what we believe and say matches what we actually do? How can we be sure we don’t have a culture and climate that are viewed as unethical and unhealthy? Do we put enough emphasis on ethical and caring behavior in our decisions and our actions?”
She pauses before going on. “I’m new to this position and to this sector in general. I’m clearly responsible and accountable for the climate, culture, and ethical behavior in this organization. We need to be concerned about these issues, and I need your help figuring out where we stand and what, if anything, we should be doing differently.” Your help? What does she need? You look at her expectantly.
She answers your implied question, “I read your organizational analysis last night, and given your impressive work on that, think you could handle this particular task. I’m an engineer by training and I’m methodical, thorough, and detailed,” Kate says. “This report needs to reflect my—and, more importantly, this organization’s—careful and thoughtful approach to these issues. So even though organizational culture, climate, and ethics may seem like soft issues, I expect strong critical thinking and an evidence-based report. I don’t just want opinions. It might help to imagine yourself as an independent consultant we are counting on for both expertise and objectivity.”
She glances at her phone. “I have a meeting in two minutes.” She stands up. “I really need your best thinking and good advice on this in three weeks. Talk to my assistant about making an appointment to see me then, and have a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation (3-4 slides) ready along with a brief memo summarizing your points,” she says. “Also, I trust you understand this is a matter that needs to be kept between us.” She looks at you squarely. “I don’t want to learn my questions and concerns have become the subject of general discussions in the office.”
“Absolutely!” you say as Kate heads out of her office. “Oh,” she says, turning around, “and I want to see some of your work in progress as you do this project. Talk to my assistant about that as well.”
You return to your desk thrilled that the COO has shared her concerns and asked you for your input. You have so many ideas and lots of questions—but you also realize you are going to need to proceed without all the information you would ideally have. You know you will need to rely only on publicly available information and not poke around in confidential work files or ask others in your office for input or advice.
How will you tackle this project? What evidence will you use to inform your understanding and strengthen your analysis? What will you tell Kate when you meet with her?
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