Do we need a code of ethics for process improvement?

With their stock going through the roof, causing them to become the most valuable company in the world, it’s easy to assume that everything is rosy at Apple and that they have managed the post-Jobs era incredibly well.  Their world is not without problems however.

They have received a good deal of negative publicity for instance for the poor practices of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer and maker of many Apple products.  Reports indicated that employees at Foxconn factories were being abused, resulting in a visit from Tim Cook and a major analysis of how they can ensure that their supply chain apply the same ethical considerations as they themselves do.

With the process improvement movement trying to eke out efficiencies across the manufacturing world, is it almost inevitable that some will look to cut corners or push employees further than they should to drive better numbers?

Ethical practice has been an issue for a few years now, especially since the financial world imploded quite so spectacularly.  This promoted things like the MBA Oath, which aims to ensure fresh graduates aspire to ethical behaviour once they hit the workforce.

On the Process Excellence Network, Jeff Cole offers the following code of ethics for process professionals.

  • We seek to use our knowledge and skills for the enhancement of the organization.
  • We do not exercise the power of our expertise or position to influence the decisions or actions of others in order to benefit personally at their expense.
  • We do not engage in communications or behavior designed to deceive others, including but not limited to, making misleading statements, stating half-truths, providing information out of context or withholding information that, if known, would render our statements as misleading or incomplete.
  • We perform services only within our areas of competence.
  • We seek to understand the organizational culture so as to avoid engaging in behaviors perceived as disrespectful.
  • We listen with empathy and seek first to understand others’ points of view.
  • We behave professionally even when it is not reciprocated.
  • We avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest.
  • When we make errors or omissions, we take ownership and make prompt corrections.
  • We apply the rules of the organization without favoritism or prejudice.

With inflation seeing costs rise amongst Chinese manufacturers there will undoubtedly be a push towards higher quality production, with process improvement an obvious methodology to help companies achieve these increases in quality.

The question is, can western companies find a way to manage their supply chain in such a way that they do not place such strain on suppliers during a hot new product launch that they look to cut corners?

Adi Gaskell is Head of Online at the Process Excellence Network

About Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organising systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and am an experienced community builder who is currently online marketing manager for IQPC. I specialize in community cultivation and using social media to create social organisations. I have written on this topic for publications such as HRMToday, Professional Manager, Business Works and the Chartered Management Institute, as well as being a regular on the UK speaker circuit talking about the power of social media. Specialties Social media, community building, knowledge management, social organisations, blogging, SEO, web 2.0, copy writing, PPC, Affiliate marketing, branding, html, email marketing.

, , , ,


I don't think yet another code matters.  MBA programs talk about ethics year after year decade after decade after huge scandals.  It doesn't seem to matter. Anyone practicing the Deming and lean spectrum automatically are practicing everything a code would need.  Respect for people, systems thinking, long term thinking, customer focus...  Many other flavors do also, it is just impossible to even questionably practice lean or Deming without doing all that.