Sunday, January 01, 2006

Corruption? Greed? No, just self centered.

In some meetings held over the last several months, I have been surprised to find a new generation of greed rising up in business. After all the news about fraud and corruption in business and B-schools getting focused on ethics I am a bit disappointed to have seen it again.

Companies often put parts of their work out for bid, RFQ or tender. Transportation, distribution and logistics are regularly outsourced and bid. Recently there have been young MBA's running the processes working hard to save their company's cost. Of course that is their job. Shockingly a large beverage company, going through the same process had one of their procurement people asking for NBA tickets and football bowl game tickets and wanting nice lunches and dinners and all this was before the actual bid was released.

We all have seen things in our careers that we did not like, but this was blatant. Credit is due to companies that have made procurement straight forward, did what they said they were going to do. I am going to slide out on the plank now and say thank you to the likes of IBM, Ericson Germany & Sweden, Reliant Energy, Xerox, Cemex, Intel and the company people love to hate, Wal-Mart. You may not like how they want to do business, you may not win their business, but you know that there process was clean. Yes there may be some politics, but there is no money or graft in the process.

I am not sure what the B-Schools are teaching these days, I have met several young MBA's with degrees in logistics and supply chain that really knew nothing about the business so I am not sure about the subject content, but to be faced with well educated people who want to enjoy themselves and pad their own situations, well its just a disappointment.

There is no more or less graft in this generation than there has been in other generations, but the amount of selfishness, the "you owe me" or the "start me as a director or VP" mentality is rampant and that selfishness at its extreme is what I saw not long ago with requests for 'goodies'. What really made this stand out is that it was not the operations or logistics people, but a procurement person. The very person in the process that is there to assure that the process is right and straight and honest. As my friend in Australia would say, I am gobsmacked.

Why does it take us all too long to understand that it is not about us, but something more. Its about being right, not correct mind you, but doing what is right, truthful, honest. I was once accused of being willing to go to any length to pursue what I believed to be right. Way beyond what was politically correct. It has gotten me in trouble more than once, but I have always slept well at night.

Being young is no crime, having an MBA is a good thing (I wish I had mine), but being so focused on yourself, that has to change. It will work for a while, but at some point it is going to reach up and bite and that bite will hurt.

Losing the focus on your self takes time, experience and hard knocks are the teachers, or the wisdom of a mentor can lead you there as well. Hear and heed that message early and you will be more successful than you ever thought, you will sleep well also.



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