I just read an article about Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant entitled “Japan Utility Says Nuclear Crisis Could Have Been Avoided”. I then went to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) website, and this is what it says: “TEPCO strongly wishes to be a nuclear power plant operator which has the world’s highest level of safety awareness, engineering capabilities and risk communication ability with society”.
Before I make my point, I want to stress two things: First, I realize the company may have added this wording to their website in response to the accident that occurred in March of 2011; and second, my intention is not to pick on TEPCO.
However, the wording on the company’s website hit a nerve with me. As businesspeople, do we really believe what we say, or are we willing to stretch the truth strictly for the purpose of looking good? My experience tells me that you can’t answer this question with any certainty until you are really tested.
The other day I was talking with a business owner who told me he needed to remove one of the senior executives because of some unacceptable behavior that had violated the company’s values. The owner told me that several years earlier, the expelled executive had been warned about his behavior.
The owner went on to say, “I hated to let him go, since this executive ran a very profitable division and we really need him right now. But it was the right thing do.”
This is where the rubber hits the road. Do you have a situation like TEPCO, where you know there are problems and you should act, but are not? Do you have a senior member of your team who violates your principles, but you look the other way because he makes your company a lot of money? Do you really believe what you say, and live by your principles and values?