November 10, 2006
"No Parking, your car will be towed"

Our new head of manufacturing introduced himself, by telling a story how he went to Dunkin Donuts, parked where he shouldn't have, and got his car towed. Amidst a general feeling of paranoia. Just hearing this story wasn't very encouraging.

Of course I blew it way out of proportion, implying things which are almost certainly untrue. I would seriously like to think it was an honest mistake, he didn't see the sign, was unfamiliar with the rules and was unfortunately punished for his actions. I'm sure that there's a lot deeper story behind it, he may not even have been going there for coffee, all of which don't implicate the perpetrator of culpability for this violation.

However: this is how I interpreted it.

The facts are as follows:
He went to go get coffee and saw the sign.
He saw the sign... read the sign... understood what it said... but chose to park there anyways.
Somehow at that moment his coffee and donut was more important than the rules.

Then the jump, which is a stretch and blowing it out of proportion.

Is the singular pursuit of one's goals justify being in direct violation the rules.

Even though the rules were spelled out clearly in block letters in front of him, he still believed that they do not apply to him. He's so arrogant and incosiderate that he thinks somehow above the law, that the rules don't apply to him.

The purpose of a coproation is to provide profit for it's shareholders. However this is not license to violate the laws of the land. The pursuit of profit is not a bad thing, however it becomes greed when it is in blatant disregard for basic fundamental legal or ethical principals.

This is the reason why so many technology companies are involved in this options pricing investigation. This is why our CEO resigned. Because somehow they thought they were above the law. Somehow, the laws didn't apply to them.

Blatant disregard for rules and laws, and the feeling that you're above it and aren't subject to it, is not a way to inspire confidence with those who will work under you.

"first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"

I'm not even going to pretend that my statements are not hypocritical, because they are. I've violated many a traffic or parking law in my time, and am as guilty as any. Dunkin Donuts makes good coffee, the parking lots can be exceptionally crowded. Thus for me to condemn this man for this one fault, is the proverbial speck in his eye, versus the plank in my own.

Yet starting off by making light of what might be a minor violation wasn't reassuring. Surely mistakes are inevitable. To the new leader, I would urge him to be better. I understand someone needs to make hard decisions, and unpleasant things may have to be done.

We work in an industry governed by laws. Our success is dependant upon our ability to follow them. Our technology is based upon our understanding of the physical laws, Our innovations are protected by patent laws. Our markets are protected the laws of fair commerce. Contract laws are what enable our customers engage in business with us.

We should honor our contracts, with those outside our organization as well as the contracts we make amongst ourselves. The agreements we make as employees, and as the corporation makes to us. These are the absolute. Disdain for even the smallest rules, even if you can conscientiously object to it, can undermine the sense of security and trust, essential for the success of the entire company.

Parking where you're not supposted to isn't unethical, we all do it. Just make sure it doesn't extend too far past that.

Posted by justin at November 10, 2006 10:56 PM