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The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work Without Selling Your Soul Paperback – November 9, 2009
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Elizabeth Doty recognizes that some compromise is healthy and necessary for the advancement of the business, as well as for an individual's career. Not all compromise is good for the organization or for its stakeholders. This book describes bluntly how to recognize and avoid those small, incremental steps that lead to the selling of one's soul and ethical values. The author also shares strategies on how to avoid the many unethical traps awaiting to snare the unwary. Elizabeth Doty urges business people to use their peripheral vision to see the wider scope of the business, and what lies beyond one's own area of responsibility. Very often, unethical activity is demanded for carrying out an individual's responsibilities, in an unhealthy business culture. The author offers advice on how to change the game through redefining the rules while strengthening one's own personal convictions and integrity.
Elizabeth Doty challenges the business person to look past what is thought to be reality, and to examine the true core of the business, its ideals, and the actions it takes. When a true and objective analysis of a company is undertaken, through the application of peripheral vision, not only are unethical compromise traps recognized, but opportunities for conducting business in a more authentic and principled manner can be discovered. Change for the good of all can replace the moral slippery slope of unhealthy compromise. Not only is integrity good for the organization, but is better for the mental and physical health of the employees as well. Moving beyond simply discussing ethics, Elizabeth Doty describes how these values affect not only the employees and the company, but also the wider community as well.
For me, the power of the book is how Elizabeth Doty combines the theory of moral and ethical behavior with practical, hands on advice for recognizing ethical traps and for creating a more integrity based organization. The book contains a series of case studies of ethical behavior gone wrong, and where changes were made that transformed organizational cultures from unhealthy compromise to strengthening their ethical standards. The author emphasizes the premise that when a person opens their eyes to what is happening around them, the true cost of unhealthy compromise can be seen clearly. At the same time, while examining the reality of the organization, hidden opportunities for positive change and ethical business practice that leads to both personal and organizational benefit can be recognized more fully. In the end, Elizabeth Doty helps the business person make choices that are in harmony with personal morality and integrity, and in avoiding the unhealthy compromises that slowly destroy a person's inner core values.
I highly recommend the insightful and must read book The Compromise Trap: How to Thrive at Work Without Selling Your Soul by Elizabeth Doty, to anyone seeking a more ethical approach to maintaining their own moral standards, and for avoiding the compromises that erode those valued inner principles. The six personal foundations, as presented by the author, will help you to remain true to those core values, without yielding them to unhealthy compromise. --Blog Business World, Wayne Hurlbert, January 30, 2010 (added by author)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Compromise Trap
"To say yes to our integrity, we need to say no to what is wrong, but how? In this insightful and practical book, Elizabeth Doty shows us how to engage constructively in shaping our work environment to create value for ourselves, our organizations, and the larger world. I recommend this book highly."
--William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes and author of The Power of a Positive No
"Doty provides an observant and critical analysis of the long-term destructive influences compromising can have on morality and effectiveness. All in all, this book will be good for your ethical behavior and your managerial performance."
--Max H Bazerman, Straus Professor, Harvard Business School
Top customer reviews
The demands of the workplace are challenging at all times and particularly challenging in today's business climate. Well-meaning people at all levels of organizations find themselves facing choices every day that create internal conflicts, confronting them with difficult choices, often resulting in compromises that they might regret later on. Elizabeth Doty's book provides the clearest understanding to date as to how we get ourselves into these traps and how we can work our way through them in ways that support our integrity and self-worth.
The book's description of "Healthy" versus "Unhealthy" compromises lends important insight into how we can navigate through the complexity of our commitments and relationships at work and in our lives. The chapter on "Five Positive Plays" offers excellent and practical advise. There are many other pearls of wisdom and usable tools throughout the book.
What was particularly useful about this book:
* It offers unexpected ways to diagnosis and frame our healthy and unhealthy compromises
* It provides specific exercises and effective ways to achieve greater congruence with our values
* It is applicable to both individuals and organizations
* It provides access to online resources that complement the exercises in the book
As a consultant working with organizations, and committed to social change myself, I was delighted to have found this book. I find it an essential tool for the kind of inner and outer organizational changes that will make it possible to successfully address such issues as climate change, global economic challenges, and creating sustainable ethical business practices.
The book is at once professional, supportive, and encouraging of self-reflection and commitment. It is a great resource for successfully responding to the simultaneous pressures of work, home and world.
Although I think the individually-oriented advice is great, I would have liked to see a little more discussion about systemic solutions. The book starts from the premise that there is systemic problem: if you are in a corporate job, you will experience pressure to do things to maximize shareholder value regardless of the social utility or individual impact of the product or service you are helping to bring to market. If the problem is systemic, then trying to be individually ethical is ultimately a losing game, even if you find yourself a community of like-minded friends and colleagues.
Each of the stories shared in "The Compromise Trap" mentions some sort of communication with leaders of an organization. As a manager -- leader -- you could think about what you would have done if the employee had come to you. The examples and issues might also prompt consideration of the environment in your company: Is it the kind in which people can and do come to you with similarly-weighty concerns?
This book can also be a tool leaders use to clarify what they feel is important. Only a few of the examples and stories have a clear right or wrong, the rest present an opportunity to ask yourself if you would have done something differently at all.
Using the book in this way is possible because Ms. Doty presents the examples and makes her key points without a hint of preachiness. She's included a fairly wide range of industries, making it easy to relate to. All in all, this is a great read whether you're a business leader at or near the top of the ladder, or working several rungs below.