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Perfecting the recipe for your ethical culture assessment 'sauce'

Suzan D. McGinnis (suzan@rethinkcomplianceco.com) is a Senior Director, Advisory Service at Rethink Compliance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Jinger A. Gustafson (jinger.gustafson@mnsu.edu) is an Assistant Professor and Department Chair, Educational Leadership at Minnesota State University, Mankato, in Mankato, Minnesota, USA.

How many of you, when visiting a restaurant, order your favorite dish with an extra side of the special house sauce? Do people look at you wondering, “Are those potatoes with a side of sauce, or is that sauce with a side of potatoes?” You really don’t care, because it is so darn good and cannot be replicated, so you are getting your fill when you can. Likewise, compliance and ethics professionals spend countless hours over the course of their careers trying to perfect their “special sauce” or magic formula that can give a reliable indication of the health of their organization’s ethical culture from a compliance and ethics standpoint.

As ethics and compliance professionals, you like to measure. You like to know where you rank among your identified peer group. But what if you shifted your thinking to revolve around creating your own strategy instead of imitating someone else’s? That is, you can create your own special sauce unique to your organization. To help you do this, we’ll introduce you to some basic tools that you may already be aware of and how to effectively combine them with a tool you may not have heard of: the Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change.

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