Objectives, results, standards and performance.
Are we sure that the ancient motto “the ends justify the means” is achievable?
What happens if a Company is put under pressure, particularly when Consumers believe that the brand is incapable of overlooking high standards?
Imagine a successful athlete who is “accustomed” to win by his fans.
Imagine that on the eve of a competition he – not considering the reasons – has not trained enough and he realizes that the possibility to fail is very high.
This person has to make a choice: to confront honestly with the competition and accept a possible failure, knowing that a single defeat cannot erase all past victories, or to resort to doping.
Looking at the recent Volkswagen case, I see a very strict analogy with this example.
But, who takes responsibility for that behavior?
Are we extremely certain that the athlete/Company is the sole responsible for this bad outcome?
Certainly, the ultimate responsible is who made the decision. Nonetheless we cannot believe that within a team of professionals only one person is guilty. People involved in the first situation of the athlete are many: the coach, the trainer, the manager, etc..
In the Volkswagen case, the psychological pressure raised by consumers, who take the “German Quality” for granted, has played an essential role in the choice made by the engineers of the German Company.
What I have always been asking is: “what would have happened if the Company had been Italian”? Would it be so outrageous?”
In a Country where self-defined “excellences” are indeed “exceptions”, to discover that someone acted unfairly would have not caused outrage or astonishment; it would have unleashed hilarity instead.
To understand the impact of the crisis in the Country where it originated, the United States, we have to consider the importance Americans assign to certain information.
In the United States people integrate pension plans with financial investment; consequently, the Company reputation is of extreme importance for investors who are not a scant minority. One must remember the Lewinsky scandal involving former President Bill Clinton.
At that time, the majority of Italians regarded Americans as too serious toward it, compared to what our politicians are able to do…
Truly, what Americans did not tolerate was the fact that a President could have lied.
Thus, discovering that such an accountable and precise German Company, such as Volksvagen, had lied at a such large scale was hugely unacceptable and particularly serious for a Country whose main values are sincerity and transparency.
What we can learn from this happening is that, although the world has changed, good reputation is something that we have to defend and protect from the achievement at every cost; in fact the ends do not justify the means.