Agile 2018

Agile 2018
Speaking at Agile 2018

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Magic of Doing the Right Thing

Doing the right thing is not magic.
There is a lot of news that has bubbled up through the web and media about doing the right thing.  From administrators mismanaging VA hospitals and providing inadequate care to our nation’s veterans to the ongoing controversy regarding the National Security Agency; each day we are confronted with people who made impossible choices and exposed wrong-doing or corruption.  Setting aside the politics of this news, it is clear that people will do the right thing even when it is not in their best personal interests.  This gives me hope because as long as there are people in business and politics willing to do the right thing there is hope for the future.  I wanted to discuss this in my blog this week.

Doing the right thing is a very vague term.  If you Google it you are taken to a weird mixture of self-help sites, quotations, and a shout out to the Spike Lee joint by the same name.  During the revelations of the Pentagon papers, Daniel Ellsberg was considered both a traitor to the nation and a hero to the counter culture.  Looking back on the situation, it is clear that without Ellsberg’s efforts open debate about how to prosecute the war in Vietnam was greatly informed by the leaks of this classified information.  Thanks to Ellsberg and his efforts, congress understood how Democratic and Republican administrations lied to them about involvement in Vietnam.  It was also a valuable source of scholarship for historians and military professionals seeking to understand the conflict.  As Ellsberg said himself, “I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.”

In 2009, Mattel the makers of Barbie and other popular toys was dragged into court because they had violated the federal ban on lead paint in their products.  This time the whistle-blower was a Chinese factory worker and the plant manager committed suicide before the full extent of the contamination was exposed.  Thousands of toys were recalled and the company had to pony up 2.3 million dollars to pay fines.  Worse was the hit to the reputation to the company, as it went into the holiday shopping season and had to explain to nervous parents how their products were now lead free.

These two stories have one thing in common.  When someone was confronted with an ethically dubious situation or a clear example of corruption, they decided to expose it and then they took responsibility for their actions.  They did not “play ball” and allow these situations to continue rather, they decided to change them with the only tools they had at their power which was information.

I have spent the bulk of my career trying to do the right thing for my customers, co-workers, and clients.  In some situations, I was rewarded with unemployment.  In others, I was demoted or marginalized.  That did not change how I operated because I always felt that when the chips were down others would always remember when you were under tremendous pressure and still did the right thing.  This was one of the reasons why I founded E3 systems.  I wanted to be the owner of a software development firm and I wanted to continue to do the right thing.  Please look us up and we will tell you more.

So as we come out of a long holiday weekend commemorating the sacrifices of military during the history of our nation.  Take a little time to recognize the people big and small who sacrifice every day doing the right thing for others.

Until next time.