Tag Archives | cheating

Be Prepared and Take Action Quickly!

Take action key on a computer keyboard, business concept

One Monday in 2013, my husband and I spent the night in our car. Shortly after midnight, on our way home from playing hockey (this is a new sport for us, and great fun), we were amazed to encounter a huge traffic jam on Atlanta’s I-285. As we slowed to a stop, we saw a plume of fire as big as a house rising from a burning tractor-trailer a third of a mile ahead. Scenes from disaster movies looped in my head, and we talked about what to do if things got worse.

We passed the first hour reading books on our iPhones, then slept intermittently while waiting for the emergency workers to put out the fire and clear the wreckage. Someone from a nearby car borrowed our jumper cables, and Rob got out from time to time to walk ahead to see how things were progressing. We started the car periodically to warm up.

This incident reminded me how important being prepared can be. I was thankful to have a warm coat and sensible shoes but thought about a few things that we should keep in the car in the future. Snacks, water, a first-aid kit, at least a third of a tank of gas.

I thought, too, about business preparedness. Business people tend to enjoy planning for good things, like new products, revenue growth and hiring. It’s worth taking the time to prepare for unpleasant surprises as well, since you can tremendously improve your outcomes with a little planning.

Here are a few examples: Continue Reading →

4 Questions Agile Companies Ask Themselves Every Day

Skier in mountains, prepared piste and sunny day

Do you wish your organization could move faster to take advantage of new opportunities in the market, or to avert emerging threats?

Do you feel that you are missing, or seeing but ignoring, important changes in your business environment?

Does it take longer than it should to make key strategic decisions, or to take action, once those decisions are made?

Today’s most agile organizations have learned how to respond more nimbly to changes in the marketplace. They ask themselves four key questions, every day: Continue Reading →

What Was Volkswagen Thinking? When Smart People Work Together To Cheat, Something Is Terribly Wrong.

News came out this week that VW engineered its software to evade emissions tests. The vehicle can detect when it’s being tested, to reduce emissions to allowable levels. As soon as the test is over, under real driving conditions, emissions are 30 or 40 times higher.

Volkswagen has acknowledged that similar software exists in 11 million diesel cars worldwide. The CEO has resigned.

This scandal hurts the reputation not only of VW (which also owns Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Bentley), it hurts the reputation of Germany. When we think “German engineering,” we’ve historically thought of reliability, precision and performance. Now we may be more inclined to think “sneaky” or even “dishonest.”

When our teenagers misbehave, we often are tempted to say “what were you thinking??”  Psychologists tell us that this is unhelpful. The teen brain is not fully developed, so teens actually can’t think ahead to anticipate the implications of their actions as well as adults can. But VW is a full-grown company.

We also say to our children “Don’t cheat, because you’ll only be cheating yourself.” In this case, VW cheated its employees, its customers, its shareholders ($26 billion in share holder value was erased this week), its country and people everywhere who’d like safe, clean air to breathe.

I don’t know how much the departing CEO, Martin Winterkorn, knew about VW’s software, which so stealthily cheated on emissions tests. As a top leader, you can’t know everything your employees are doing.

But the CEO is responsible for his company’s culture. He exemplifies the values that guide that culture.  He should set clear expectations for fair-play and honesty.

And he clearly did not do that; at least, not well enough. When groups of very smart people work together to cheat the system, as it appears VW engineers did, it’s a symptom of deep cultural rot within a company’s soul.

Winterkorn has stated that he is “endlessly sorry” and asks for “trust on our way forward.”

That trust is going to take a long, long time to rebuild.