Ethics - Moral law vs. Criminal law

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin

On another note:

When economies are in a downturn, more and more organizations become imbued with a cancer from the top officers down to the lowliest line worker which leads them to believe shortcuts to quality are not only reasonable, but tacitly approved by their customers. I sincerely hope neither your own organization nor any in your supply chain have caught that cancer.
That's a symptom, not a disease. The ailment is incompetent management, and it's virulently contagious.
 
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Wes Bucey

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That's a symptom, not a disease. The ailment is incompetent management, and it's virulently contagious.
OK. I'll accept that as a working definition, but not necessarily a diagnosis for all quality shortcomings.

So, do you have any suggestions for either a realizable cure or a method of immunization beyond killing the infected and burning the corpses the way some unenlightened cultures dealt with smallpox and plague in the past?
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
OK. I'll accept that as a working definition, but not necessarily a diagnosis for all quality shortcomings.

So, do you have any suggestions for either a realizable cure or a method of immunization beyond killing the infected and burning the corpses the way some unenlightened cultures dealt with smallpox and plague in the past?
I think I mischaracterized the actual root cause, which is greed. The phenomenon is a form of the Peter Principle ( In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence) applied to corporations as entities. If a company grows to sufficient size, greed will always overtake quality. There comes a point when a company is simply too large to manage in terms of quality, and the raison d'être becomes money. I think Toyota is a very good example. The corpses are self-immolating, albeit with the occasional phoenix.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
I think I mischaracterized the actual root cause, which is greed. The phenomenon is a form of the Peter Principle ( In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence) applied to corporations as entities. If a company grows to sufficient size, greed will always overtake quality. There comes a point when a company is simply too large to manage in terms of quality, and the raison d'être becomes money. I think Toyota is a very good example. The corpses are self-immolating, albeit with the occasional phoenix.
Wow! That's a really scary view. Do I follow your logic correctly?

  1. Modern quality guidelines applaud "continual improvement"
  2. Continual improvement usually implies growth in gross sales, net profit, number of people employed.
  3. At some point, continual improvement leads to a growth past the critical point where it becomes simply too large to manage in terms of quality, and the raison d'être becomes money.
Is it therefore your conclusion that continual improvement is ultimately a suspect as the root cause of corporate greed leading to poor quality?
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
Wow! That's a really scary view. Do I follow your logic correctly?

  1. Modern quality guidelines applaud "continual improvement"
  2. Continual improvement usually implies growth in gross sales, net profit, number of people employed.
  3. At some point, continual improvement leads to a growth past the critical point where it becomes simply too large to manage in terms of quality, and the raison d'être becomes money.
Is it therefore your conclusion that continual improvement is ultimately a suspect as the root cause of corporate greed leading to poor quality?
Product improvement is a victim, not a cause. I can't personally identify the root cause of greed, which is some sort of character flaw, and includes greed for power and influence as well as money. Greed is a monster that must keep eating more and more in order to stay alive. Sooner or later it will simply eat itself to death.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
Product improvement is a victim, not a cause. I can't personally identify the root cause of greed, which is some sort of character flaw, and includes greed for power and influence as well as money. Greed is a monster that must keep eating more and more in order to stay alive. Sooner or later it will simply eat itself to death.
Well . . . if greed is a character flaw, not a disease, then it isn't infectious, nor is it inevitable. That kind of invalidates your original surmise [premise?] that all [most?] organizations inevitably grow to a size where greed causes a falloff in quality.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
Well . . . if greed is a character flaw, not a disease, then it isn't infectious, nor is it inevitable.
You might want to acquaint yourself with the concept of metaphorical constructions. I thought it would be obvious that I wasn't referring to a actual disease, any more than you were referring to actual cancer in an earlier post.

That kind of invalidates your original surmise [premise?] that all [most?] organizations inevitably grow to a size where greed causes a falloff in quality.
Perhaps I didn't do a good job of explaining my point. There will come a point in the growth of nearly all companies when one of two things will happen. Management will recognize a conflict between unfettered growth and control of product quality and invoke leadership in handling the conflict, or greed will take over.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
You might want to acquaint yourself with the concept of metaphorical constructions. I thought it would be obvious that I wasn't referring to a actual disease, any more than you were referring to actual cancer in an earlier post.


Perhaps I didn't do a good job of explaining my point. There will come a point in the growth of nearly all companies when one of two things will happen. Management will recognize a conflict between unfettered growth and control of product quality and invoke leadership in handling the conflict, or greed will take over.
Perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but you seem to be saying greed is inevitable in nearly all organizations without the intervention of a leader who is somehow preternaturally enlightened to recognize the onset of greed and take positive action to forestall it.

In regard to my use of cancer as a metaphor, I was working on the premise there are cancer-causing agents, which, if allowed to permeate the environment of the organization, have a high probability of inducing a cancer throughout the organization of poor quality, poor, service, poor leadership, and even poor following by the rank and file. I did not ever mean to imply such cancer-causing agents are endemic throughout all organizations or even most organizations.

I can think of at least two multi-million [one is more than a billion, the other not quite a billion] dollar organizations which have been in existence longer than my entire lifetime and which have enjoyed steady growth and yet never been implicated in rumors of, let alone actual instances of, quality failures or setbacks. Each of these organizations has had a steady progression of executive turnover in the last 40 or 50 years I've been paying attention to them without any bloody boardroom coups nor have they ever been considered as prime targets for hostile takeovers by my brethren in the investment banking community. Apparently, no cancer-causing agents in their environments, if we follow my reasoning. Either that, or my lifetime isn't long enough for the greed to set in, if we are to follow the reasoning of Jim Wynne.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
Perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but you seem to be saying greed is inevitable in nearly all organizations without the intervention of a leader who is somehow preternaturally enlightened to recognize the onset of greed and take positive action to forestall it.
There is no "onset of greed"; there is an onset of untoward events that results from greed, which might not manifest itself until a company reaches a size where performing in the short term becomes the primary impetus.

In regard to my use of cancer as a metaphor, I was working on the premise there are cancer-causing agents, which, if allowed to permeate the environment of the organization, have a high probability of inducing a cancer throughout the organization of poor quality, poor, service, poor leadership, and even poor following by the rank and file. I did not ever mean to imply such cancer-causing agents are endemic throughout all organizations or even most organizations.
What is this cancer that causes poor leadership? I think it's the other way around. Maybe you need to reread Out of the Crisis.

I can think of at least two multi-million [one is more than a billion, the other not quite a billion] dollar organizations which have been in existence longer than my entire lifetime and which have enjoyed steady growth and yet never been implicated in rumors of, let alone actual instances of, quality failures or setbacks. Each of these organizations has had a steady progression of executive turnover in the last 40 or 50 years I've been paying attention to them without any bloody boardroom coups nor have they ever been considered as prime targets for hostile takeovers by my brethren in the investment banking community. Apparently, no cancer-causing agents in their environments, if we follow my reasoning. Either that, or my lifetime isn't long enough for the greed to set in, if we are to follow the reasoning of Jim Wynne.
I could (and you could too) quickly compile a list of 100 companies that were done in by the greed of management. The fact that there are some that haven't fallen into that pit isn't evidence to the contrary; it's evidence of the fact that effective managers are few and far between, but they do exist.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
So, the latest "poster child" for impaired corporate ethics appears to be Toyota. Criminal indictments and subpoenas are in the offing from the feds on two fronts - conspiracy to hide the flaw and conspiracy to protect the stock price by not disclosing material information about the company to current and potential stockholders.

Akio Toyoda, descendant of the founder is to face Congressional queries this week on the coverup (not the actual nonconformance) his company supposedly engaged in while determining how to handle their discovery of a design flaw which had the capacity to cause injuries and death to users and bystanders.

The mere fact the design flaw is real does not make Toyota or its managers guilty of anything except civil liability for the injuries and deaths. The fact they delayed alerting folks to the flaw "may" have a defense - it will be interesting to watch events unfold to see if they propose one or just roll over and accept penalties, rather than engage in a long and bitter legal action.

What makes this Toyota situation important for the purpose of this thread is whether any whistleblowers voluntarily tried to alert federal authorities of the design flaws, either overtly, or covertly through an attorney as I have continually advised throughout this thread. Keep watching for any news of such whistleblowers and, if any turn up, let's follow their fortunes to see whether they are rewarded or punished.
 
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