Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, May/June 2019 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
Previously in this series: Nānā i ke kumu Truth (Eighteenth in Series 2)
Ready, steady, Pono!
“Rightness and balance.
The feeling of contentment when all is good and right.”
Nineteenth in Series Two on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
In Managing with Aloha’s first edition, I stated, “Pono is rightness and balance.”
I made a slight change in the book’s second edition released in the summer of 2016, and started Chapter 18 with, “Pono steadies you with rightness and balance.”
We tend to think of Pono as a destination, a finishing we can wrap up significant efforts with. Indeed, it is extremely satisfying to achieve Pono, particularly in the course of activities requiring an element of ho‘oponopono (conflict resolution).
Let’s not underestimate the ongoing, contextual worth of this value however, for constant work on the value alignment of Pono delivers so much more.
From Series 1 on Managing with Aloha, here in this magazine’s history;
“Pono helps right conquer wrong, whether inside us or around us. To be known as ‘a Pono business’ is to stand by your moral convictions, and deservedly enjoy a reputation of always doing the right thing. You do right by everyone, every time.”
Every time. To value Pono, is to work within its guidance consistently.
Pono delivers integrity, ethical behavior, and morality, the morality of a particular system of shared values and principles of conduct. That “particular system” is your business or organization. You must define what is right and wrong behavior for everyone associated with your business. Do not neglect to do so, for that will be the consistent guidance they will seek to work within as your representatives, partners and ambassadors.
Defining your right from wrong is just the beginning. When Pono is part of the process, it will evaluate and perpetuate a person’s readiness in context—what are the variables in different situations, and which paths might present themselves? How might the person involved be the key variable?
After that readiness to choose comes the steadiness of confidence. You gain assurance that the actions they’ll take are the best ones, because they are the right ones by definition of your values as a whole, the ‘whole’ you consider your professional set of behaviors to be.
This isn’t about penning a set of rules; people will never be machines. It’s about the expectations made clear in your values.
A body of work is usually a performance of improvisation within context: The people who work for a business are predominantly left to their own devices within a wide range of freedoms, and they have an abundance of choices. Pono narrows those choices down for them, and points them toward truthfulness and honesty, ethics and integrity, so that the choice they’ll consistently make isn’t just right, it’s reasonable to them, and it’s very clear. Pono becomes that discretionary voice in their head which asks, “Ready? Steady now… go ahead.”
There are two areas in particular with which I encourage managers to make Pono a part of their operational processes: Training and discipline. If you start with these, they are quite likely to help you see other process possibilities, such as Pono in problem solving, or in working with customer complaints.
Training starts with recruitment and selection, gets seeded with hiring, and is planted with a thorough orientation process, so both skill-building and culture-building sprout quickly. Training then becomes a constant application of compost and fertilizer so talent, skill, knowledge, and cultural health can thrive, flourish, and grow strong.
When Pono is part of those training processes, all questions of honesty, ethics, and integrity are addressed, with the scenarios of differing context trained as value alignment. It might be for Ho‘okipa and customer service, Kuleana and individual responsibility, or another value and its key operations—each of YOUR organization’s core values in turn.
With discipline, Pono will consistently challenge you to answer, “What is Pono for us? When are we ready and steady with the confident assurance of executing our right, and never our wrong? What is our honesty, our ethics, our integrity defined as—in what specific actions do they happen?”
No business should take creative license with honesty, ethics, or integrity: To do so, would not be Pono at all. The world defines these concepts for our ‘Ohana in Business, and for our customers and communities pretty universally; the morality of operating a business is quite clear, and far less complex than we will sometimes attempt to justify.
It may be wise to delegate parts of your training to others, such as industry or management experts, but please, don’t ever delegate discipline. If, for example, you are solely relying on union guidelines in progressive discipline, you aren’t doing enough. Nor are you holding yourself accountable. Incorporate and practice Pono as the way you deal with errors in judgement. Make corrections your own in alignment with your values.
Next issue: We revisit Ka lā hiki ola, the value of optimism, hope, and promise.
Rosa Say is a workplace culture coach, a zealous advocate of the Alaka‘i Manager, and the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. Contact Rosa at www.RosaSay.com, and discover more about the Managing with Aloha philosophy at www.ManagingWithAloha.com.
Postscript: Ke Ola is published 6 times a year, and distributed in print on Hawai‘i Island and by subscription. I have therefore made a practice of archiving the articles on RosaSay.com for those within our Ho‘ohana Community who may want to read them.
You can access all 20 articles I had written for Series 1 via this index. The inaugural column for Series 1 may be read here: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?” and here for Series 2: Aloha Intentions.