This may seem like a cop out, but the quote that had the most effect on me in this book came in the first four lines of the preface. Fred Koch said, “Keep your obligations and promises. Try, if possible, to do business with honorable people. All the contracts and lawyers in Christendom cannot make a dishonorable man hew to the line.”
In our first session of the semester, we discussed Aristotelian virtues and whether or not virtue should be enforced within society. For the most part, I remember that there was a general consensus that there were few, if any, virtues that could be or should be cultivated by government. In spite of this general consensus, I left the meeting believing that integrity is a public virtue that should be cultivated by government. I still believe that.
In order for Koch’s principles of MBM to work at any level – personal, organizational, or societal – I believe that integrity must be one of the foremost virtues adhered to. Without integrity/honesty, the purpose of the existence of government cannot be fulfilled. Property is not protected without this virtue and people will not “hew to the line.” In my studies, I have come to believe that one cause of state failure is lack of enforcement of property rights. If my property can be taken at the whim of some dishonest person, I have little incentive to work.
I believe that there is a lesson for me in Koch’s book. I ought to be always honest and strive to make that a principle of my leadership style and encourage others to adopt this attitude as well. In order to create a successful organization with any sort of longevity, there must be integrity throughout the organization before any of Koch’s other principles can be applied.