Yesterday, during breakfast my son and I created paper boats. The first attempt ended up in the bin after the first fold. The second attempt made it to fold five or six before suffering a similar fate. Frustration and anger grew in my son, but I managed to persuade him to keep trying. With the third attempt a boat of sorts appeared. And by the fifth go, he was doing it on his own.
And he is proud. 24 hours later all ten attempts (including the ones fished out of the bin) are lined up on the table. And he likes to talk about how each version is better than the previous. Sometimes it’s a ‘whole’ boat improvement, but in the later ones it’s improved sides or nose or flag. (The frustration and anger are not included in the retelling).
Yesterday, I also spoke at the NetHope Global Summit about Building Responsible Organisations. My son’s paper boats reminded me of how often we get frustrated with the need to keep talking about ethics, values, norms, and practical guidance. We can feel like a stuck record repeating things over and over in many different ways. Sometimes to the same people, sometimes to new people.
Building responsible organisations is not a one-off task. It’s a continual job. It is something to include in staff orientation and onboarding processes, but it requires so much more than that. And it’s not just for one department, IT or otherwise, it needs to be woven into the fabric of the organisational culture. And this takes time and many attempts. Some attempts, like the early paper boats, will end up in the bin. And yet, even in those attempts we are learning something. ‘I was practicing my folding with those Dad.’
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