Sunday, 10 June 2012 00:00

Ethics, Liars, and Naïveté

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Image on ethics

Are there any ethics in business today? Time and again, headlines proclaim where companies and leaders have gone astray. You cannot help but wonder what our fellow humans will do next. Men and women in search of money, power, fame, or all three, decide they are exempt from the rules and social norms the rest of us struggle to follow. It boggles the mind. Unethical, however, is just a waypoint in the spectrum from truth to criminal. Face it, we are all liars. It may be telling our children about Santa Claus, portraying our speed to the policeman, covering up a politician's extramarital affair, or promising fortunes through investments in Ponzi products. Deceit is everywhere.

Lies Are Good

The reality, though, little lies are needlessly damaging. A well stated fact in this blog and my book that I routinely and randomly obfuscate the gender, business domain, and timeframes in case studies and business examples. Is this a lie or does it show integrity? Many have scolded the practice as selfishly protecting me from ridicule, which is ridiculing in and of itself, hence I lose either way. The non-disclosure agreements have long since expired on most of the stories, so I could easily include all the details. I simply feel they are impertinent to the lesson and therefore can be changed with no consequence to the essay's value and no humiliation to the subject. There is little to gain from these trivial details.


All of us have all fallen into the trap of believing a falsehood so completely that we ignorantly espouse its virtues. The ethical tipping point with stupidity is how quickly we listen to contrary data. Will we question our beliefs in search of something closer to the truth? Familiar is the pompous individual who spouts out "facts" based on some set of beliefs that they hold true and who refuse to consider any number of contrary logical arguments. More than once, I have clenched my teeth in a similar situation in order to refrain from blurting out Dan Aykroyd's famous decree on Jane Curtin's ignorance.

The Other Shoe Drops

Help a Needy Non-Profit

The Portland Business Journal is sponsoring a contest called Social Madness. The winner gets to donate $10,000 to their favorite charity. If we win, will choose the Native American Youth Association (NAYA) in Portland to receive the funds. However, we are miles behind and need your help in voting us up the list and keep using the running. Please, go to the Social Madness website and on the Small Business page vote for eCameron and help my Granddaughter.

A few weeks ago, I posed a personal dilemma encountered with a new prospect's employee. The owner was the archetypal progressive and open leader that would make a refreshing client. One of their executives, however, seemed to fabricate a nonexistent conflict. In the spirit of candidness, I had a meeting with the owner to determine what we had done to offend them. That article left the reader with the owner's perplexed query, "Nothing, what makes you think that?"

Many people would halt the investigation and proceed with business, instead, the owner and I decided to hold a meeting with the four people involved—him, the executive, my employee (who was the intermediary of the comment), and myself. We met at an upscale bar and he described the problem factually. The rouge executive said what I most feared, "I never said that, there must be a misunderstanding." The ensuing conversation was riddled with inconsistencies. My only choice was to politely decline to do business with the company. Although the owner was infinitely ethical, he was too naïve, creating intolerable risk. His steadfastness in assuming positive intent translated into lack of judgment. Waiting a number of weeks to see if he would call back, I eventually contacted him to say he should look for another company to do the work. He was notably upset and took the refusal personally. Nothing good ever comes of these situations.

Questioning Ethics

Referring back to the second section of this article—Lies Are Good—I claim that the names, genders, or any other identifying data is irrelevant to the story. Here, however, is the story about dealing with someone's lies (since then many other situations have surfaced) or is it reporting on a condition that others will continue to succumb unless the perpetrator divulge? By obfuscating the person's identity, am I leaving others open to the same fate? Have I wandered down the path from truth to lie so far that concealing the name is morally wrong? Please, give me your input.

Read 8575 times

Related items

  • Strategy-Execution Gaps

    The statistics on strategy execution are dismal:

    • 59% of middle managers fail at resolving conflicts in corporate strategy.
    • 45% of middle managers cannot name one of the top five corporate goals.
    • 64% of cross department/functional issues are poorly resolved.

    And maybe as you could expect from this:

    • 53% of companies cannot react timely to new opportunities.

    You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know that this trajectory is not going to launch most companies’ latest strategic plans successfully. In fact, these data might make you feel that middle management would be better suited as test dummies for the next generation of manned space-vehicle. Granted, the data show there is a dearth of leadership in middle management, but executive tier has a culpable hand.

  • Process Mapping

    Process is at the core of any business. It makes work predictable, repeatable, and transferable. Without it we cannot scale our businesses. However, process can be a bane to making progress. Processes that work for a $10 million company have difficulties supporting a $30 million company. Trying to scale them to a $300 million company will not only fail but not address the issues that larger companies have that were never dreamt of in a smaller organization. Processes need to be discarded, revamped, and built—all of that without creating an overburdening bureaucracy.

    Anytime you need to go someplace, you first have to know where you are. Processes are never static and your company's current state is probably far from where you think it is. Hence, the first step is mapping out you company's current state followed by defining the future state. This is more than a logical map of the process; it must also include physical maps. Whether your process is solely to provide a service (say, website development) or physical (say, manufacturing) there are logistical issues that complicate the process flow. Without fully understanding those nuances, future state processes will not reach the desired efficiencies.

    For more information about process mapping fill out the form to the left and we will get in touch with you.

  • Success vs Culture

    The other day a Latvian student contacted me for my views the connection between culture and success criteria—an important and intriguing topic. After working in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Israel, United States, and Canada, I wear many scars of both blatant and subtle cultural violations. I also know that within a culture one person's success is often another person's failure. So, after dispelling concerns about clicking on some random email link, I completed her survey (please feel free to take it yourself). In the process, I struck up a friendship with the student, Kristine Briežkalne, who is studying at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration . She has some interesting views and presented me with a Venn diagram showing four frames to a project (business, client, project management, and growth perspectives) and how they intersected. As the diagram is part of her Master's thesis, I will let you ponder the how to label the overlapping areas (an eye-opening exercise).

  • Kill The White Knight

    There is a reason we do not teach classes on fixing failing projects. Many a cynic feels that we simply do not want to teach our trade, however, our reason is far nobler—we should be teaching prevention rather trying to create white knights to save the day. It is the same philosophy as building a fence at the cliff's edge rather than an emergency room at its base. Our language is replete with idioms telling us to look past the symptom and address problems at their root cause. 'An ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure' or 'a stitch in time saves nine.' Please, feel free to supply your own in the comments. Unfortunately, most of our businesses loathe this philosophy, waiting to address an issue until it is irrefutably broken.

  • Comparing Organizational Change Management Models

    A few weeks ago, I set out to write a post on the comparison of various organizational change management (OCM) methodologies and realized that would be a disservice to my readers. It would simply drag you down the path of implementation while failing to focus you on building the foundation. The pressure was too much and I have relented to numerous requests on making that comparison. The caveat is that juxtaposing these models is not comparing different varieties of oranges or even apples and oranges; we are surely comparing the peel to the fruit they contain. Hence, comparing methodologies like Kotter's model (the peel), Prosci's ADKAR (the core), and General Electric's Change Acceleration Process (the whole fruit) need a different approach.

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.


PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.