Cutting Corners is a Rotten Choice

Companies that are in a financial bind or aggressively determined to steamroller over their competition can view cutting corners as a viable option. By that, I mean that they take actions such as using inferior materials for their products or providing misleading information to convince potential customers to use their services rather than a competitors’.

Why should you care? I can think of at least two reasons.Cutting corners, isolated

  1. Your employer is a customer of the company that’s sacrificing quality for speed and profit.
  2. You have the misfortune to be employed by the company that’s doing it.

Cutting Corners Hurts Your Company as a Customer

Suppose, for example, that you’re the Supply Chain VP for your company. Your organization has the charter to ensure that the company gets the best deal it can in all aspects of its operations. Although price is certainly a consideration, that might not always mean the lowest price, especially if quality is critical to your company’s reputation and success. The managers who report to you know that you expect them to stay focused on this.

What happens, then, if one of your people discovers that a supplier is substituting lesser-quality materials or using a less rigorous testing process? You expect corrective action to be executed promptly, and if needed, you get directly involved in making sure that happens.

This might involve one of the following actions:

  1. Calling the supplier on the carpet to initiate immediate remedial action.
  2. Turning to an alternate supplier if you don’t have a sole-source situation.
  3. Staying with the supplier and keeping them on a short leash until you can try to line up a better alternative.

What If Your Company is the One Cutting Corners?

The situation can range from somewhat uncomfortable to extremely stressful if you’re employed by the company that’s cutting corners. Your ethics and sense of integrity could bring you into sharp conflict with the company’s policies and actions, even though those policies and actions might be legal, strictly speaking.

Imagine a situation in which you become aware that your company is not keeping faith with its customers by providing the quality and type of service they’re paying for and have a right to expect. You might decide that you need to speak with your boss about the situation you’ve uncovered. Integrity Person Lifting Word Competitive Advantage Best Leader

However, what if your manager is already familiar with the situation–might even be a willing part of it? And what if he/she makes it clear that you’re expected to fall in line and keep quiet about your discovery?

You now have a major moral dilemma staring you in the face. As you might know, whistle-blowers can be given a rough ride, both within the company and by outsiders, even after they leave (or are terminated by) their company. On the other hand, if you give in to the pressure and stay silent, you automatically become a party to the deceptive practices.

That can add significantly to the stress level you experience going forward. However, refusing to go along and standing up for what you know is right can easily cause you to be shown the door with no warning. Then you face economic pressures as well.

No Easy Answer

I can’t tell you what you should do if you ever face that situation. I can’t even tell you what I would have done if I’d been there, although I like to think I’d have made the tough choice to refuse to cooperate. Each of us has to make that decision independently; no one else can really advise you, when push comes to shove.

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