Don’t Blame It On the Corporation

Mark J. Komen, President

Kodyne, Inc.

Plymouth, MN

The term, “Corporation” often gets a bum rap.  When things go poorly, it’s The Corporation’s fault.  When it’s a tough place to work, The Corporation is to blame.  Conversely, The Corporation is a good neighbor when it sponsors a softball team, charitable drive or community event.

But The Corporation doesn’t exist except as a legal and tax entity.  It does not make decisions, promote agendas, enact strategies, hire workers with disabilities, or pollute the environment.  The Corporation can’t do these things because it has no brain or conscience or even a body.

PEOPLE comprise a corporation for the purpose of doing or achieving something.  People make decisions, are good or bad bosses, use toxic chemicals, and build bridges that stand the test of time (or fall down).  Blaming a corporation for causing the world’s ills or giving it credit for making it a better place is misplaced and misguided.

People need to be accountable for their actions, be responsible for the choices they make and for the results or impacts that subsequently follow.  People make the work environment productive or difficult.  People make robust designs or inferior products.  People serve the community…or steal from it.  The individuals who make up our organizations, whether they’re heroes, villains, scapegoats, or unsung contributors are, in my opinion, on the hook for what they say and do.

Banks, governments, companies or institutions may warrant our scrutiny but only at the surface level.  Everything hinges on people, what they accomplish, how they do things and what they communicate that make all the difference between success and failure, productivity and waste, prideful contribution and embarrassment, legal and illegal actions.  Blaming The Corporation for times involving difficult situations is the wrong approach.  The Corporation may be a face to the public represented by a building, web site, brochure, logo, or even a TV show sponsorship but what makes things tick are the folks behind that mask.  People make the difference because they are the ones who set policies, create expectations, sign off on drawings, make laws or look for loopholes.  Ethics, moral codes, justice, and fairness are constructs that are supposed to guide us in these endeavors – when we choose to consider them.

Ultimately, the responsibilities start and end with the organization’s leadership and governance. Will they ignore such things as inequities, illegalities, quality or safety at the expense of meeting financial projections?  Will they insist on collaboration, stewardship, employee development and transparency of information?  Will they own up to mistakes, make amends for errors, honor agreements, hold others down the line accountable and give staff the tools to do the job?  To me, the individuals making these choices bear the brunt of responsibility and accountability, not the embodiment of some corporate ID number needed at tax time.

© 2010.  Kodyne, Inc.  All rights reserved worldwide.