Philosophy |
The William Institute


We believe that ethics is ultimately about people and relationships. However, as a society, we tend to think of ethics solely in terms of rules, oversight and compliance with established professional standards. In fact, the word ethics derives from the classical Greek terms ethos and taethika. To the ancient Greeks, ethos meant personal character, and taethika signified investigation into the nature of the virtuous life or the right way to live.


Diogenes searches for an honest man.

Many individuals and organizations today continue to address ethical challenges with more regulations and more laws. We do not seem to know what else to do. We are grappling with ways to determine what is happening within our organizations - or what we think is happening - or what we fear might happen.

The TWI philosophy is based on the concept that if we can figure out the right way to live - how to build right relationships, strong organizational cultures, and effective communication networks - we will not have to fear what might happen next or which area is in need of more rules.

No matter what definition of ethics you examine, ethics is not primarily about standards, rules, and sanctions in isolation from society. Ethics is about people and their relationships with one another.

Linda M. Williams, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, TWI

The TWI Nonprofit Philosophy - A Social Entrepreneurial Approach

TWI was founded using a "social entrepreneurial" model—providing research and publications, seminars and evaluative studies to accomplish its nonprofit mission. What is social entrepreneurship? This model recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture designed to effect social change. Whereas business entrepreneurs create and transform industries, measuring performance in terms of profit and return on investment, social entrepreneurs act as change agents in order to improve systems. These nonprofits seek to generate "social value" and measure their success in terms of the impact they have on society.

During the summer of 2005, PBS presented a four-hour series hosted by Robert Redford entitled The New Heroes. The series showcased social entrepreneurs worldwide referring to them as a "new breed of entrepreneur...courageous, compassionate and committed to transforming society," turning their business skills into tools for change and development. In actuality, TWI was ahead of its time in the nonprofit sector, establishing the social entrepreneurial approach in its own operations in 1993.

Now truly national in scope, TWI's diverse client and customer base includes educational institutions, government organizations, social service agencies, corporate clients and private consultants and trainers. True to its mission to build ethics in community, TWI has served over 550,000 individuals nationwide through the use of its products and services.

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