Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Lie, Distort and Fail to Report

Lie, Distort and Fail to Report

There is an easy way to subvert any system. Unless… .

Several years ago, I was part of a team charged with proposing a way to improve the safety record of our company. I’m proud to say that all 60,000 of us employees ended up working in a way that saw ten times fewer people harmed at work, a 90% drop in the rate of safety incidents over about five years.

Very early in our effort, some of us boss-types visited other companies that had already done what we intended to do. At one of those visits, a plant floor person made the presentation for the whole factory. During the Q&A that followed, one of our folks asked her, “Your system seems based on very accurate and timely reporting nationwide. How do you make sure that what’s reported is both of those?”

The presenter paused for a moment. I could see a flicker of expression on her face that said she was a bit puzzled, or that she thought the answer was obvious. Then, she said, “Well, anyone – from us on the plant floor up through the Division Vice President – who lies, distorts or fails to report the needed information is fired. That day. No excuses.” Safety and integrity mattered, and it showed in their results.

In the years since then, I’ve reflected a lot on what she said. Just this morning for example, I read the morning paper, flipped across several TV news broadcasts and then surfed through a dozen or so different internet news sources. As you would expect, the Budget Battle was topic #1.

In just 20 minutes, it was clear which ‘news’ sources were lying, distorting and/or failing to report about stuff that was critical. That is, critical if I was to have my own informed opinion and not theirs.

So, as that earnest young lady advised years ago, I’ve ‘fired’ the sources that my own cross-checking shows to lie, distort and/or fail to report as a policy. That’s a lot of firing; across a big chunk of the ‘news’ business, subversion is not a lapse in integrity but a propaganda process worthy of Orwell’s pen.

I urge you to fire the perpetrators as well. Then ‘hire’ those who don’t lie, distort or fail to report about things they disagree with. There are just too many sources of cross-checkable information today for any of us to accept less.

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  1. January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

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